Posted on 02 December 2011 by admin
Posted on 25 July 2011 by admin
To the editor:
As you all have heard by now, Gov. Rick Scott approved the SunRail project.
As a taxpayer, I have many questions on how Osceola County is going to pay for this train that will never pay for itself. I would have preferred a rail system that would take me as far north as Tallahassee and as far south as Miami. I would think that type of rail system would have been used a lot more than the proposed SunRail.
Sun Rail is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, actually, the latest count is in the billions. The state of Florida has made perfectly clear that it will have a seven-year obligation. After the seven years, the counties involved will have to support this rail system.
My question is, why, as the chairman of the County Commission, hasn’t Brandon Arrington addressed the sole-source funding item? Mr. Arrington’s lack of leadership shows us all his lack of ability to manage our tax funds.
Mr. Arrington said to local news media that “the long term operational costs for SunRail will most likely be from an increase of taxes, such as a gas tax, a county charter surcharge and maybe even a rental car surcharge. Right now, with gasoline costing us in excess of $3.50 per gallon and climbing, we don’t need more taxes added to the price per gallon. And let’s make sure that we tax our tourists even more so that they can think twice before coming here on vacation.
With food costs skyrocketing, unemployment still at double digits, food stamp use soaring, utility bills on a constant increase, 80 percent of our students on free lunches and foreclosures at a record high, Mr. Arrington is willing to burden Osceola County with more taxes. What kind of world is he living in? It certainly isn’t ours. All he knows is to tax and spend. It seems that his only knowledge of economics is coming straight out of the Whitehouse.
As a sitting commissioner and a chairman, where is the leadership he should be bringing to this county? Where are the job creations which he should be focusing on? Where is there any kind of relief for our citizens who struggle just to keep food on their table? Instead of assisting and actually helping those of us who need relief, he would raise our taxes for more wasteful spending. What’s next, more green projects to bring more cost to us?
Mr. Arrington has had more than two years on the County Commission and has proven to our residents that he’s simply a tax-and-spend commissioner.
Land deal after land deal, which should have never even been considered, passed under his alleged leadership as chairman. Yet, with economic times like these, he actually complains that the county needs money.
Why are we even buying useless land projects that are costing the taxpayer millions of dollars? Why does Mr. Arrington continue to allow, and even support, spending our tax dollars so foolishly?
He might be able to pull the wool over some of the residents’ eyes with his town hall meetings, but rest assured, the truth will prevail.
Osceola County Commission
Candidate District 3, Kissimmee
Posted on 11 July 2011 by admin
Then, with a full court facing them, the Soviets inexplicably were given three in-bounds plays. They scored on the third try — and won. The U.S. protested, and rightly so. But three of the five-member appeals panel were from Communist bloc countries, which voted together to deny the U.S. appeal and instead certify a “victory” that any objective observer would categorically refuse to affirm.
The appeal decision was wrong, it was politically motivated, and the Communist bloc interests smugly celebrated.
Fast-forward to July 2011. We just change the game — yet produce a similar mind-boggling result.
CSX does not get $641 million for 61 miles of dilapidated track and risk-free use of it. Florida Hospital does not get the station required for its massive expansion.
A second vote is called. SunRail is defeated again. The citizens win again. CSX and Florida Hospital lose again.
Finally, a third vote is called in a special session. Legislative minds suddenly change. SunRail passes. This time, the citizens lose and CSX and Florida Hospital win.
Now, when SunRail faces operating shortfalls, the needed money will come from our roads budget.
Get ready to pay for realignments and worse for your cars. The times, they are a-changing, and the potholes, they are a-coming. And so are higher taxes, which some cleverly call “dedicated funding sources.” Make no mistake. Your wallet will be tapped, even if you never ride SunRail.
But wait. The citizens have an appeal. It’s Gov. Rick Scott. Alas, he listens to the special interest bloc, and SunRail goes forward. The citizens lose.
We can’t boycott the new taxes we’ll see and we can’t boycott the new potholes we’ll drive through.
But U.S. Rep. John Mica and State Rep. Dean Cannon have their pet project, their special interest campaign contributors have their prizes, and Gov. Scott has shown those who supported him and his supposed fiscal conservatism that he’s just a political hack like the rest of them.
Florida. I’ve lived here a long time. Some things never change.
Beth Dillaha is a former Winter Park commissioner.
Posted on 06 July 2011 by admin
Initially, SunRail will be insuring twice as much track as it will be using (for Phase I); only freight trains will be running on the other 30 miles.
In Virginia, where Virginia Railway Express leases rail access to operate commuter trains, one assumes that CSX has responsibility for the tracks it still owns. But Amtrak leases access, too, and pays off on major accidents (see below).
In 1991, at Lugoff, SC (the Orlon Crossing, near a DuPont plant), 35-year old Miami Sgt. Paul Palank traveling to a family reunion in Washington, DC, to be with his wife and children, was killed along with seven others, and 77 were injured in a passenger rail accident. A pin (not the designed hardware) that held a switch in position on CSX tracks came out and the switch moved causing the Silver Star (Train 82) to slam into cars on a siding. Not intentional. The switch was improperly installed (backwards) ten years earlier. Not intentional, but no inspections done.
CSX saved $2.4 billion between 1981 and 1993 on track maintenance by using too few employees, according to data dug up and reported in the book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill), by David Cay Johnston 2007. See Chapter 3, “Trust and Consequences”.
Punitive damages awarded to the widow, Angelica Palank, after ten years of studying law and fighting CSX amounted to $50 million – 1% of CSX net worth. With physical damages the total was $56 million. This amounted to 4 cents on each dollar saved by CSX on maintenance. The other seven families settled for much less. CSX appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would not hear the case.
There were 8 derailments on CSX in 7 weeks at the end of 2006 into 2007. The Federal Railroad Administration sent out inspectors. They found 3,500 violations of safety procedures in 23 states – 199 of them serious violations of the law. On the $56 million; CSX simply sent the bill to government-owned Amtrak which paid it — meaning the taxpayers took the hit.
CSX paid nothing. Johnston makes the case in Free Lunch that, as long as the railroad pays out less than it saves in maintenance cuts and repairs not made, this will continue.
Government inspectors are over-burdened. They tell Union Pacific not to call in with minor accident reports that will increase their workload. Only four out of 3,000 accidents at rail crossings are fully investigated.
Trains are 52 times more deadly than trucks, based on miles traveled.
In America, deaths at railroad crossings amount to about one per DAY. In Britain they amount to 18 per YEAR.
Does that give you a warm fuzzy feeling about SunRail?
There was a report that Paula Dockery had given out this book to the Legislature when they were discussing liability insurance for CSX. Pity that few apparently read it.
Another account of this accident is found at http://csx-corruption.com/orlon-switch/ , where the total cost is given as $88 million, which includes interest on Mrs. Palank’s award and costs for the other victims who settled for lesser amounts. Also at this site, www.csx-corruption.com , there is a compilation of other railroad accidents. Of 753 railroads reporting 2010 on-duty deaths to the Federal Railroad Administration, CSX led them all – 50% higher than any of the next four highest reporting railroads..
The New York Times ran an investigative series of articles about poor railroad safety. http://www.nytimes.com/ref/national/deathonthetracks_index.html
In 2002, 21 of 40 cars on an Amtrak AutoTrain were derailed near Crescent City, Florida, killing four and seriously injuring 36 with minor injuries to 106 passengers. Improper roadbed maintenance by CSX was found by the National Traffic Safety Board. to be the cause. Cost associated with the accident was about $8.3 million. http://www.pulitzer.org/archives/6931 ,
George McClure is a Winter Park taxpayer and a longtime opponent of the SunRail boondoggle.
Posted on 06 May 2011 by admin
(Orlando) Former Winter Park City Commissioner Beth Dillaha has announced the formation of a coalition of past and current elected representatives, groups, anti-tax organizations and individuals opposing the proposed SunRail Commuter Rail project with a mission to alert Florida Governor Rick Scott to the vast opposition to the proposed “SunRail” commuter rail system in Central Florida. The coalition is called VETO SunRail (Voters Expressing Their Opposition to SunRail) and is urging Governor Scott to reject the SunRail project.
The coalition consists of current and former elected officials including Osceola County Commission and former Chairman, the Honorable Fred Hawkins, Jr. Osceola is one of the four counties in the proposed SunRail commuter system. The largest taxpayer organizations in Florida: Ax the Tax, with a 28-year history of successfully fighting tax increases and over 20,000 supporters, the Florida Taxpayers Union with over 140,000 supporters and the Campaign for Liberty with over 40,000 supporters have joined this diverse coalition that includes dozens of tea party and 912 organizations as well as individuals from all major political parties in Florida.
Dillaha was an outspoken critic of the proposed rail system during her term on the Winter Park City Commission. Winter Park has been designated as one of the proposed stops along the 61.5-mile freight train track running through four Central Florida counties.
SunRail is a heavy diesel commuter rail project proposed to run along a 61.5 mile CSX freight rail corridor from Volusia to Osceola counties and serve only 3700 commuters daily, The Federal Transit Authority evaluated the project in 2007 and stated the project was “not cost effective” and “will not serve the I-4 corridor.” There is no funding source established to operate and maintain the system for 99 years of operation and the voters of the Central Florida region have been denied the right to vote the project, and it’s funding, up or down. Mayor Buddy Dyer, chairman of the Commuter Rail Commission, has stated repeatedly that an increase in taxes will be required.
With a $1.2 Billion start-up cost and about $600 Million going to CSX, SunRail represents the most expensive rail deal in the history of the United States. Additionally, the Florida legislature agreed, in December 2009, to shift liability for accidents, injuries and / or deaths caused by CSX on the 61.5 mile corridor to Florida taxpayers.
The Coalition is urging Central Florida, as well as statewide Florida taxpayers, to contact the Governor immediately and ask for his rejection of the SunRail project.
Posted on 04 May 2011 by admin
Former Winter Park City Commissioner Beth Dillaha has announced the formation of a coalition of past and current elected representatives, groups, anti-tax organizations and individuals opposing the proposed SunRail Commuter Rail project. In a news release, the group stated its mission is “to alert Florida Governor Rick Scott to the vast opposition” to the project. They call themselves VETO SunRail — Voters Expressing Their Opposition to SunRail. Scott has had SunRail contracts on hold since early this year. He has said he wants to be sure central Florida communities fully understand their financial obligation to the project before it goes forward
Dillaha was an outspoken critic of the proposed rail system during her term on the Winter Park City Commission. Winter Park has been designated as one of the proposed stops along the 61.5-mile track running through four Central Florida counties.
According to the group’s release: ”With a $1.2 Billion start-up cost and about $600 Million going to CSX, SunRail represents the most expensive rail deal in the history of the United States. Additionally, the Florida legislature agreed, in December 2009, to shift liability for accidents, injuries and / or deaths caused by CSX on the 61.5 mile corridor to Florida taxpayers.”
See the group’s website here: www.VETOSUNRAIL.org.
Posted on 11 March 2011 by admin
Ax the Rail Tax Coalition Commends Governor Scott on SunRail Delay
“The death knell for the SunRail Boondoggle” says Guetzloe
(Orlando) Ax the Rail Coalition, a coalition consisting of Florida’s three largest anti-tax organizations, today commended Governor Rick Scott for the announcement that the Governor is pushing back any decision on the floundering SunRail commuter rail project until after July 1, 2011.
“This is the death knell for the SunRail boondoggle,” stated Ax the Tax Chairman Doug Guetzloe. “Funeral services will be in July just in time for Independence Day.” Guetzloe and Ax the Tax has led the fight against the commuter rail boondoggle since 1997. Ax the Tax has also led the opposition in five (5) public referenda issues on rail, including the most recent victory against the proposed light rail tax in Hillsborough County that resulted in 58% of the taxpayers voting against the tax. Ax the Tax raised and spent over $100,000 in that successful victory.
“The Governor is certainly sticking to his campaign pledges and working hard to wean these public boondoggles from the public teat,” Guetzloe concluded.
Ax the Tax (www.AxTheTax.org); The Florida Taxpayers Union (www.FloridaTaxpayersUnion) and the TEA Party (www.FloridaTeaParty.US) comprise the leadership of the Ax the Rail Tax Coalition along with the following tea party movement groups: Central Florida Tea Party; Florida Tea Party Patriots; Hispanic Tea Party Patriots; Florida Tea Party; Volusia Tea Party Patriots and the Sumter County Tea Party.
Ax the Tax has led taxpayers in seventeen (17) successful anti-tax referendum victories helping taxpayers save in excess of $47.5 billion over twenty-nine (29) years.
Posted on 10 February 2011 by admin
State Coalition of Rail Opponents to Inform Governor Scott to
“Keep his word” on rail objections
Ax the Tax and the TEA Party is endorsing the Reason Foundation report on the dangers of the proposed high speed rail project.
The report, authored by international transportation consultant Wendell Cox and Reason Foundation Project Director Robert W. Poole, “sounds a dangerous warning whistle to the establishment of Obama-led-stimulus rail projects in Florida,” stated Doug Guetzloe, Chairman of Ax the Tax, a statewide political grassroots organization that was the first group to openly oppose rail projects in 1997. “Wendell Cox and Robert Poole are foremost experts on the dangers of these publicly funded boondoggles. The High Speed Rail project is Florida’s ‘Big Dig’ – yet another federally backed project whose cost ballooned from $2.8 billion dollars to over $14.8 billion dollars when officially completed twenty-two years (22) after commencement.
Both Wendell Cox and Robert Poole have advised Ax the Tax over the past 14 years on the various aspects of rail and its unpredictable expenses. Ax the Tax brought Wendell Cox to Orlando to address the issue of light rail in 1999 just prior to the rejection of rail by the Orange County Commission in a 4-3 vote after Ax the Tax led the effort to oppose the rail project.
Ax the Tax and the Tea Party jointly led the successful rejection of rail two months ago by the voters of Hillsborough County and expended over $100,000 to oppose that referendum as well as pro-tax efforts in Polk County and Osceola County.
Ax the Tax has never lost a transportation initiative having assisted taxpayers in defeating over $48 billion in proposed taxes during its 27 years in existence.
Dunmire and Guetzloe have endorsed the actions of Wisconsin Governor Walker; New Jersey Governor Christie and Ohio Governor Kasich who have all rejected similar proposed federally funded rail projects in their states. “Governor Scott needs to join this crowd of conservative leaders and reject rail for Florida,” stated Dunmire, Chairman of the TEA Party (TEA).
Tea Party leader Peg Dunmire has initiated a voter contact system to assist voters in notifying the Governor’s office of the widespread opposition to both the high speed rail and commuter rail proposals. The Tea Party endorsed Scott and helped provide the margin of victory in Scott’s razor-thin primary victory over Attorney General Bill McCollum, a strong pro-rail/pro-tax advocate.
REASON FOUNDATION REPORT:
Posted on 03 July 2009 by admin
Since elected officials don’t really get it, let’s review SunRail. The project has been voted down by voter referendums 3 times. It has been voted down in the State Legislature twice. So why don’t these elected officials give up? Easy! SPECIAL INTERESTS!!!!
Orange County already has several problems with elected officials including Rich Crotty who sits on the Expressway Authority board and has been deemed part of a Culture of Corruption. This is another story in itself. Right now I will stay on track.
The Orlando Sentinel had an online poll yesterday dealing with SunRail. ——–
SunRail: What do you think?
Backers say SunRail will create thousands of jobs in Central Florida, but critics decry its cost, say it will jam Lakeland traffic and is a taxpayer gift to CSX. What’s your take?
Approve SunRail already. We need an alternative to I-4, and gas prices are only going to go back up eventually. (92 responses) 6.2%
Reject SunRail again. With Florida in a recession, we don’t need to spend $1.2 billion on a choo-choo few will use. (1388 responses) 93.8%
1480 total responses
Yesterday Ex-Banker Exec turn State CFO Alex Sink, stated that she is in support of SunRail. I wonder if the special interests have gotten her on board because of her Gubernatorial Campaign. This will sure cost her votes though.
Posted on 02 July 2009 by admin
Here’s a Press Release sent out from her office:
Tallahassee – Florida CFO Alex Sink today commended Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for his announcement that SunRail is extending their negotiating period, keeping alive Central Florida’s aspirations for commuter rail. Below is a statement from CFO Sink:
“Commuter rail is so important for Central Florida, and it is my hope that with this extended negotiating period worked out by Mayor Dyer, a reasonable deal can be structured for the taxpayers of our state.
“I am encouraged that this amended plan comes at a time when the federal government’s commitment to high speed and commuter rail will mean a better financial deal and additional money, reducing the burden for Floridians.
“I am also pleased that Mayor Dyer has expressed his desire to involve risk management experts and attorneys from the Department of Financial Services in the liability provision discussions.”
Ordinarily this wouldn’t be important, However Orange County voters have voted SunRail down 3 times. The Florida Legislature has voted it down twice. And now we have Alex Sink saying that the commending Buddy Dyer over forcing SunRail on the citizens of Orlando and Orange County.
Personally, I’m not sure that Sink understand that’s she needs to carry the entire I-4 Corridor to WIN the Governorship. My thought on this, She just put another nail in the coffin with Central Florida voters.