City Manager Silverboard and Mayor Minning illegally spent almost $20,000 of our taxes to “Educate” us on how to vote


On Thursday, i asked the court to enjoin the city from illegally spending any more of our tax dollars on its propaganda campaign to “educate” the voters. The city attorney did not deny it was illegal but just said, no problem judge “we’re finished spending taxpayer money”… Not only did Silverboard and the City spend our taxes on “educating” us, the city manager violated the city’s ordinance that prohibits his spending more than $10,000 without commission authorization. Mayor Minning and the city attorney were warned at least three times about this, yet the Mayor sent a letter out to all of the voters using those illegal expenditures. Do we want our government using our money to “educate ” us ? It’s outrageous. It’s unethical, It’s immoral and It’s illegal.

I ask all of you Treasure Island voters to send the Mayor and commission a message by emailing them to tell them how you feel about illegal action. Go to the CIty’s website and click on the send an email to commissioners. Please. Otherwise they’ll think they got away with it.It’s been a long hard fight to Stop Tall Buildings. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

The City Manager, Reid Silverboard, without any authority whatsoever, spent almost $20,000 of our tax dollars sending us fancy color brochures to “educate the voters”.

The Mayor, apparently disregarding the fact that the “voter education” program was illegally funded, sent us all a letter, telling us that we need tall buildings to become a tourist destination.

Our Commissioners only represent the developers, not the residents. They failed to stop Silverboard from spendign our money when they knew it was illegal.

The Gators property supports the increase with a huge donation to the Vote Yes political committee, because its property value will almost TRIPLE…that’s right, with increased density Gators will get a 272% increase in their property values…maybe $30 million. And who gets to pay for the infrastructure required, residents, of course. We pay over 80% of ALL property taxes.

And, while the national and state elections are important, local elections are what affects us on a daily basis. As citizens, we have the right, actually, an obligation, to challenge our government when it’s wrong…to challenge government when it caters to special interests…when it ignores our voices.

The fight to stop tall buildings doesn’t end with this referendum. It will only end when we replace our elected officials who looked on with bemused indifference, even ignorance.

It has been an amazing process to see how our community of residents has stepped up to take on the challenge against City Hall and the developers. What started out with just a few people, has snowballed into cohesive citizen activism. Be proud of yourselves for taking part.

And, with any luck, some of you who’ve become involved in protecting our Constitutional and civic rights, will come forward and seek public office. We need you….and we’ll support you.

Thank you…

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The PD Virus is headed to Treasure Island


Treasure Island voters face a historic vote in November. It’s the residents versus the developers, plain and simple. The developers want you to vote to almost triple density in some areas and increase height by 40%. Why? The hotel owners told the City that they can’t make enough money without the increases. Really? During the last 15 years, at least 10 condo hotels have been built under current height and density regulations. An architect told the St. Pete Beach commission that his Treasure Island projects built under those standards are his best performing in Pinellas County.

Most of us moved to Treasure Island for the small beach community ambiance we love. If we wanted to live in a congested snarl of traffic and tall buildings, we would have moved to Clearwater or Sand Key.

Now, however, our City and the developers have another vision for us, it’s called Planned Development (PD) districts. PD is just another name for a virus transmitted by developers as they move from one from beachfront community to another putting down concrete for cash and then moving on the next beach. It started in St. Pete Beach, then moved to Madeira and now they’re trying to infect Treasure Island.

And, please, please don’t be misled by the City and developers when they tell you that the PD virus is limited to a just few neighborhoods. The way the PD ordinance in Treasure Island is written, it takes only two commission meetings to include any neighborhood in the city. The City Manager admitted to the Beacon that “the commission could expand the boundaries of the PD…it would depend on the mood of the City Commission.”

This exact change in PD just happened in Madeira Beach. After the zoning change, a thousand voters submitted petitions to the City to repeal the PD virus. The City ignored it. And your City will ignore you as well.

The referendum ballot language is intentionally worded to allow the city to claim that a “Yes” vote will apply to any future changes to the PD district. That means that Sunset Beach and Paradise Island are PD targets as well.

Finally, a bit of history on why we’re voting on these issues. A former mayor, wrote a letter last week, supporting the proposed increased height and density. In 2002, she was mayor during the first attempt by developers to force taller buildings on the residents. The citizens had gathered enough signatures for a referendum to adopt ordinances which would prevent increased height and density without a vote of the residents. In one of the more anti-citizen episodes of our City’s history, that mayor and the commission, voted to increase height despite the pending voter initiated referendum to be held the following week. The voters, by an astounding 67%, passed the ordinance requiring voter approval of height and density. Subsequently, a court ruled that the commission vote was illegal the height increase was invalidated. I think that it’s relevant to note that the mayor is now a director of the pro developer political committee despite no longer being a resident of Treasure Island.

And, you know the City propaganda materials you’ve had sent to your mailbox and have seen in the papers? They’re all paid for by you, the taxpayers, without any commission approval or authority. A city employee, , Reid Silverboard, unilaterally appointed himself propaganda minister and spent at least $20,000 on those materials, despite a $10,000 spending limitation. He alone decided what to include in the material and the ads.

On November 8, or for early voters, today, we can vote to retain our beach town ambiance. Do we suffer years of construction and permanent traffic congestion? Do we give up our vision of the future to feed a handful of developers who are the only people likely to profit? You can stop the PD virus before it gets to Treasure Island by telling the developers NO to the increases. It’s too bad if it’s not enough for the developers. It’s enough for us.

Kenneth L. Weiss

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Citizens Sue Treasure Island to Stop Tall Buildings


Last month, two Treasure Island residents filed suit against the City alleging that the City intentionally failed to comply with comprehensive planning laws, known as the Community Planning Act or the CPA. If the lawsuit is successful, and I firmly believe it will be, it will stop increased density and increased height in Treasure Island, at least temporarily.

The lawsuit challenges the adoption of parts of the City’s Comprehensive Plan which is essentially the overall blueprint of what can be built in Treasure Island. In essence, when the City amended part of its comprehensive plan (the Coastal Element of the plan) the City knowingly refused to provide information required by the CPA to regulate future development affected by flooding and sea level rise.

As all of us who have lived in Treasure Island for awhile know, flooding like we recently experienced is relatively new. Big hurricanes caused flooding but a high tide and a storm in the Gulf never did. Whether climate change is man made or a natural cycle, those of us who live on the beaches are now faced with the consequences of rising sea levels.

In 2015, the Legislature amended the CPA to require municipalities like Treasure Island to “outline the principles that must be used to eliminate inappropriate and unsafe development in the coastal areas”. The purpose of the new provision also was intended to provide discounts for flood insurance for coastal residents, like us.

The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) suggested that the City postpone the legislation in order to get the information necessary to bring the City into compliance.The city refused to postpone the adoption.

Instead, the City, led by the City Manager Reid Silverboard, advised the Mayor and the Commission to adopt the legislation. At the meeting at which the Commission approved the legislation, I advised the Commission, in no uncertain terms, that the legislation did not comply with the statutory requirements of the CPA. The Commission ignored that warning and the lawsuit was then filed on behalf of Noel Johnson and Shelley Eckert.

The lawsuit challenges the adoption of parts of the City’s Comprehensive Plan which is essentially the overall blueprint of what can be built in Treasure Island. Because the City has no information (the statute calls it “data”) to support the legislation, we have filed a preliminary motion for sanctions against the City. If the court determines that our allegations are correct, i.e. that the City had no data,the City will have to pay the residents’ attorneys fees.

I’ll update this further after I take the depositions on Tuesday, September 27 of Reid Silverboard, the City Manager and Paula Cohen the Director of Community Improvements. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask, just click on the contact link or at citizens@tampabay.rr.com

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VOTE NO on all Referendum Questions…Here’s Why…


Treasure Island residents will be voting on November 8 whether or not to increase height by 60% and triple the density in the City in Referendum Questions 1-6. The purpose of the vote is to permit an increase of another 1000 hotel/condos in our City at an increased height to almost 100 feet. The current height limit is 60 feet.

If you’re new to Treasure Island, you should know that we had this vote in 2003 when the voters rejected tall buildings by a margin of 70%. Developers argued then that they couldn’t build without increasing height and density….yet, as soon as the developers lost the vote, they immediately started building.

All of the Referendum Questions ask for increases in both height and density. So if you are opposed VOTE NO.

The titles to the referendum questions don’t explain that. Instead, the City has attempted to hide the fact that not only will buildings be up to 40% (26 feet) taller than currently permitted, but an additional an extra 10 feet will be permitted for rooftop bars, pools, and entertainment facilities. That is a whopping 60% increase. Density increases from 22 to 60 units in some areas, almost a 300% increase.

Question 1 increases the height to 86 feet from the current limit of 60 feet. The ballot title, however, doesn’t explain that. Instead the City misrepresents that question as a vote to “limit height”. Nice try but it’s a lie.

To put the issues in perspective, the City wants to add about 15 buildings the size of the new Treasure Island Resort but about 60% taller. The question is why. It’s a lie to tell us the developers can’t build without the requested increases.The TI Resort and every other building since 2003 was built under current height and density standards.

The City argues that the buildings will be taller but narrower. That’s just another lie. There is no requirement to build narrower if the height increase is approved. In fact, the City ignored the requirement to build narrower when it authorized the TI Resort to be a full 50 feet (20%) wider than the city code permitted. How can you trust city officials who won’t even follow the law now?

More importantly, do you even know where the Planned Development zoning District is? The City didn’t bother to tell you that. Why? Because after the vote to increase height and density in the “PD District”, the City expects that developers will ask for taller and denser buildings all over the island. Even the City’s legal opinion confirms that.

Want proof that the City is lying to you? Look at the ballot titles. A vote “Yes” on the Referendum Questions will increase height and density…yet, does any ballot title explain that? NO

If you don’t want another 1000 hotel/condos on the beach towering above what we have now, vote NO, because increasing height and density benefits no one except developers.

 

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