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Roundup 3-24-2017

March 24, 2017

Contents

Growing

Transportation – Survey City

— Streetcar Survey

— Some Questions

— Some Thoughts

— Bottom Line

— Regional Transportation Survey

— Conclusion

Transportation – More on Rearranging

Transportation – Another Interesting Bill

Economic Development – The Biomed Back Office Cluster

Transportation – Rocky (including Wasatch) Mountain High

Downtown/Channel District – USF Med School

Rocky Point – Hotel to Start

Transportation – Ferry News

Downtown/West Tampa – Ugh

Transportation – More Than a Rumor, Less Than a Proposal

MacDill – The More the Merrier

Tampa Heights – Progress

Why Reinvent the Wheel?

_______________________

Growing

The Census released their 2016 population estimates on Thursday. For the first time, the Tampa-St Pete-Clearwater metropolitan area is listed as having more than 3 million people, 3,032,171 to be exact.  Sarasota-Bradenton has 788,457 and Lakeland-Winter Haven has 666,149.

All the counties in the Tampa Bay area grew (Manatee 3.5%, Pasco 3%, Polk 2.66%, Hillsborough 2.16%, Hernando 2.5%, Sarasota 1.9%, with even Pinellas county growing by a respectable 1.3%).  Even with not the highest growth rate because of its size, Hillsborough County had the tenth largest actual increase in terms of numeric change among counties. (In Florida, only Orange County gained more people)

The Times crunched some other numbers:

South Florida grew by nearly 65,000 residents from births and migration, and its population stood at more than 6 million last year.

The Tampa area grew to 3 million residents last year, adding 61,000 residents through natural increases and migration. Orlando grew overall by nearly 60,000 residents and had a population of 2.4 million residents last year.

* * *

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday said the Tampa area had the nation’s fourth-highest gain from people moving there last year. Some 58,000 new residents moved there.

South Florida had the nation’s seventh highest gain from migration, adding about 48,000 residents who moved there.

Orlando added nearly 47,000 residents through migration, placing it at No. 8.

Coincidentally, 3 million people was about the size of the Dallas-Ft. worth area when they began building their light rail system.  And it is far larger than other cities when they started theirs.

Transportation – Survey City

As anyone who follows such things knows, there are a general transit study and a streetcar study underway in our area.  As part of both studies, there are online surveys.  The one for the streetcar is here  and the regional transit study is here.

We are all for gathering public input and are all for participation in these surveys.  People should take them, but with the understanding that there are some issues. The overriding issue is whether they will produce truly useful information.

— Streetcar Survey

Let’s start with the streetcar survey.

— Some Questions

In it, you will be asked:

What is the biggest transportation challenge facing downtown and surrounding neighborhoods? *

Safety for pedestrians and cyclists

Traffic congestion

Walkability / ease of access between destinations

Cost of transit and other shared mobility services

Availability of transit options

Event related parking and traffic

Access to parking

You can only give one answer.  But there are multiple challenges facing downtown and they are interrelated.  Arguably lack of transit is the key to all that so you can put “availability of transit options.”  Fine.  But then you get to the meat of the survey, where coming up with a pat answer gets harder.  You have this:

What PRIMARY TRAVEL MARKETS should we focus for a streetcar mobility solution? *

Downtown residents

Transit-dependent people

Commuters to downtown jobs

Visitors to Ybor City

Patrons of cultural and entertainment venues

Convention attendees

Visitors from Tampa International Airport  

It asks for markets but only lets you choose one.  A rational system should serve more than one market (a well planned system would create opportunities for basically all those markets to use it) so how do you answer that?  And does limiting the answers give a real picture of what the respondents want?

Then, it gets to the real heart of the matter asking what kind of system you think the streetcar should be, giving you these choices:

Downtown Circulator

A downtown circulator service would be designed to connect housing, jobs, and shopping destinations, and provide a convenient alternative to driving for downtown residents and workers. Service within the downtown core and close-in neighborhoods would be frequent and would run from early morning through late evening.

* * *

Venue Connector

A venue connector service would be designed to directly link cultural, entertainment, and tourist destinations in Downtown and close in neighborhoods. The service would focus on serving the needs of visitors with stop locations close to key venues and service hours and frequency designed to service visitors and event patrons.

* * *

Subregional Link

A subregional link service would be designed to allow for future connections to activity centers in the City such as Westshore and Tampa International Airport. To serve a broader area and more distant destinations, such a service would have fewer stops downtown and faster travel speeds.

We get the distinction of a downtown circulator.  It does not help anyone get in and out of downtown, just around it.  Then you have venue connector.  A transportation system, including a downtown circulator, should connect to venues – it is just a matter of how many and which ones.  (Though clearly any system should not just be for visitors.  That is what we basically have now, and it does not work well.)  The circulator and venue ideas are not mutually exclusive – in fact, they complement each other.

And then there is the idea of a “subregional link.”  URBN Tampa Bay has this to say about subregional link option:

They don’t get into the specifics in the poll, but we have seen the proposal’s details elsewhere. This “subregional” concept would route the streetcar from downtown Tampa to the Westshore area, via the median of I-275 as part of the $9 billion TBX boondoggle FDOT is pushing, with no intermediate stops between downtown and Westshore.

In our opinion, this concept is a non-starter, as such an alignment is not designed to serve urban commuters moving within the urban core, but would instead turn the only piece of true urban mobility we have in Tampa, into another amenity designed to serve suburban commuters cutting across town. That’s flat out an unacceptable use of urban taxpayer’s money. Urban tax collections need to start benefiting urban residents. Period.

We do not know if that is the plan for subregional rail or not because the City has been lacking in providing information regarding the concept of the downtown-Westshore rail, including during the TED/PLC/Go Hillsborough process. (Though this presentation to the City Council does seem to indicate that at least the 275 median is a main consideration.)  Whatever they are considering, the survey should say it – clearly.

Anyway, digging around the streetcar study website, this is the closest we could find was from a page 81 of the pdf of a Presentation at the March 7, 2017 meeting:

From City of Tampa website – click on map for document

It is quite vague (and not included in the online survey) and includes no real route or stop options, though it implies, without clearly saying, that there is consideration for at least a stop at West Tampa. (And the graphic does show that the City priorities remain the same from the failed 2010 plan.)

— Some Thoughts

Because the subregional concept is not entirely clear and the survey does not allow for a detail discussion, this seems like as good a place as any to elaborate what we would consider a reasonable “subregional” concept.

The whole point of a transportation system is to transport people – from home to work, to events, to the airport (which is why the “venue” idea makes no sense – people rarely just travel from one venue to another).  A line as described by URBN Tampa Bay above would not do that. (And, if that is the plan, it would leave the “West River” redevelopment area without transit).

We are all for a line from downtown to Westshore/TIA, but any reasonably designed system that has any hope of improving transportation in central Tampa and eventually being expanded to form the spine of a larger system would have to have stops in between Westshore and downtown (and more than just one at West Tampa) to make it useful for urban residents as well as people coming from farther out. It should function more like light rail than a streetcar – with dedicated right of way, faster speed, and fewer stops (at least more distance between stops; the overall number might be the same or increase depending on length of the route) – but, again, with enough intermediate stops and stops near important locations and venues to make it actually useful for potential riders.

As for using the median of 275, that its own issues of making the stops attractive and easy enough to use to convince people to ride and promote development along the line. It is possible to use the median, but it would have to be done very carefully and not on the cheap.

In sum, we would support a properly designed true starter line (not just a City rail line) between downtown and Westshore/TIA.  It should be expandable into the County – especially the near County – and any rail should be relatively quick (far faster than the streetcar is now).  But it also needs to have useful stops and plan for the future when the central part of Tampa (which is Westshore to Ybor) gets denser.  And any system should be designed to be expanded.

— Bottom Line

All this highlights the problem with the survey as a whole – its vagueness.  It does not allow for full answers, it does not even ask full questions, and does not flesh out its concepts.  That vagueness leaves it unclear just what is being asked – and open to manipulation. And even if you argue that things will get fleshed out later, remember the early survey are used to limit later surveys, so inaccuracy early on jsut gets amplified.  Moreover, all of these things should have been discussed during or even before the TED/PLC/Go Hillsborough process.

So take that survey.  It is a way to provide input, and it is what we have. Just understand its flaws and don’t assume the results will adequately reflect the thoughts of the participants.

— Regional Transportation Survey

The Regional survey is a completely different animal.  It basically asks if you think there should be better transit and why in a one page survey.  Frankly, it is just an unscientific poll, the utility of which is questionable simply because it is so minimal.  On the other hand, the website for the study provides some interesting information, like the timeline.

From tbregionaltransit.com – click on chart for website

And a presentation for what the whole study is about.  And a summary of that:

The Regional Transit Feasibility Plan is underway. This effort will evaluate opportunities for premium transit within the urbanized areas of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties.

The purpose is to identify projects for the Tampa Bay region that have the greatest potential to be funded (compete for federal grants)and be implemented, are the most forward thinking and make the best use of today’s technology, and best serve our region today while supporting tomorrow’s growth.

Our region is growing, a trend that will continue in the years to come. We have an amazing system of roads with several projects planned and under consideration to ensure our world-class road system remains effective well into the future. While these projects will help, widening and improving our roads alone will not satisfy long-term needs brought on by our growing region. We need to look for complementary mobility options to connect our region and promote continued economic growth and job opportunities.

We would have rather not had so much hype and a little more focus on the point.  If we had such a great transportation infrastructure (like that “world-class road system” – which, no matter what it actually means, we don’t have), we wouldn’t need to study.

— Conclusion

So, by all means, do the surveys.  But remember that they ask your opinion of a limited number of options that are not really explained.

Transportation – More on Rearranging

A few weeks ago we discussed a legislative proposal to change TBARTA to make it a transit agency and reform its structure. (You can follow along with the legislative fun here)  That is moving forward.

A legislative measure aimed at restructuring the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority to foster greater regional connectivity passed its first committee stop in the Florida House of Representatives Tuesday.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee voted 14-0 on the bill. The measure would change the “transportation” in TBARTA to “transit” and eliminate some local representation in favor of state appointees who represent the local business community.

* * *

The measure, which is also sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater,) amended language that would have limited city representation from the existing board.

The transit agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties would maintain a seat at the table. In the original bill the Florida Senate president and Speaker of the House would each appoint two members from the regional business community. The amendment reduces that to one each.

The amendment answers some criticism that ceding local control to appointed members could have reduced input from the urban centers that drive transportation decisions.

Looking at the amendment, it basically makes the Tampa and St. Pete Mayors board members (though not in so many words).   That is fine, even if it ignores that they have half representation as all the counties (2 seats to 4) while not representing the vast majority of even their own county populations.

More importantly, the amendment does not address our major question: why the appointed members should come from the “regional business community” or what that even means (which no one really knows because it is left undefined.)  For the sake of argument, if it means anyone with a job or who buys anything (a consumer is arguably part of the “regional business community”), it is superfluous language.  If it means anything else, as we noted previously, people other than the business community have an interest in transportation. Sure, business people will be on the board, but there has been no explanation or justification for limiting public membership to them (however they are eventually defined) or how other residents and their interests will be represented and protected.

And then there is this:

“This bill gives me pause,” Newton said, referring to the fact that Tampa Bay voters have rejected recent tax referendums on transit. “I don’t see how changing a board is going to do that.”

Which does raise a relevant point. The problem with transit in this area hasn’t really been mayors, other local officials, and the business community not working together. It is that they have not come up with a plan they could sell.  We still wonder how that will be addressed.

Which leads into this: the proposed structure risks adding to the impression, right or wrong, of many that whatever is proposed is a backroom deal between politicians and big business and help rally opposition. Adding some other voices will enhance the process and give it greater legitimacy.

The Chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership, which appears to be the driving force behind the bill had this to say, among other things:

This legislation is a critical first step to creating a seamless regional transit system that successfully addresses these issues. We thank the sponsor, Rep. Dan Raulerson, and the members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, which includes Bay Area Legislative Delegation members Rep. Amber Mariano, Rep. Ralph Massullo, Rep. Wengay Newton and Rep. Jackie Toledo, for recognizing the importance of this bill and allowing it to move forward through the legislative process. Their actions today encouraged continued discussion and allow for future efforts to improve the bill. 

And that is positive.  We are all for getting TBARTA to be useful and having a regional approach to transit, but this bill needs some tweaking.  And, even with that, a rearranged TBARTA is just a preliminary step. The real issue of coming up with a plan that sells remains.

Transportation – Another Interesting Bill

Sunshine Citizens noted an interesting pair of bills floating around Tallahassee.

The “High-occupancy Toll Lanes and Express Lanes” bill is known as SB250 in the Florida Senate and HB777 in the State House. You can find your Senator and Representatives here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find

This bill helps put an end to the addition of express toll lanes on our interstates throughout the state. And it ensures that all new toll roads will pay for themselves, repealing the tolls once the bond debt is paid off. We think this is a smart plan and ensures that we only plan and pay for infrastructure and roads that are truly needed.

You can find the bills here. Among other things, the bills provide:

High-occupancy toll lanes or express lanes may not be created on or after July 1, 2017. Upon elimination of the tolls on existing high-occupancy toll lanes or express lanes pursuant to subsection (1), such lanes may continue to exist but not as high-occupancy toll lanes or express lanes

The bill would put a crimp in the TBX plan, though we have no idea if it has a chance to pass and be signed.  We’ll see what happens.

Economic Development – The Biomed Back Office Cluster

There was news about more jobs in Tampa:

Biotechnology giant Amgen is opening a facility in Tampa this October with promises to create as many as 450 jobs here by 2018.

The facility will be primarily back-office operations spanning four floors of Corporate Center One in Tampa, which neighbors Tampa International Airport to the east.

Amgen, which is investing $25 million in the Tampa project, specializes in developing medicine for diseases with few treatment options. Their focus areas include: oncology and hematology, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, bone health, nephrology and neuroscience. Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the company operates in nearly 100 countries with nearly 20,000 employees worldwide.

* * *

Amgen did not receive any tax incentives through the state job-creation agency Enterprise Florida, or any local incentives, economic development officials said. 

First, the jobs are definitely welcome.  We welcome all jobs.  We also find it interesting that there were no incentives.  That is also a positive, not for a political reason, but because it shows an ability to attract the jobs, though given our well-developed back-office history that is not so surprising.

The only thing is that, much as we are happy these jobs are coming, we would really like to have actual life sciences jobs in addition to back-office jobs. Then we will really be forming a biomed cluster.  Maybe the life science back office jobs will serve as a gateway to the heart of the business, but that remains to be seen.

Transportation – Rocky (including Wasatch) Mountain High

There were a number of news items from the airport in the last few weeks.  First, adding to the accolades, the airport came in third in Money Magazine’s The 10 Best U.S. Airports for a Stress-Free Trip

Silver: Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Florida’s Tampa airport ranked highest for the ease of its security process in J.D. Power’s 2016 survey. That’s a particular achievement, considering that J.D. Power reported an 8% increase in the wait time travelers spent in security lines over the past year. Tampa owes its speed to a decentralized design with multiple security checkpoints. That gives travelers more time to explore the 45 shops and 34 restaurants, a dozen of which opened in the second half of 2016 alone. Southwest, a top MONEY airline, is Tampa’s largest carrier, serving about 35% of the airport’s passengers.

That pesky Portland airport came in first.  Salt Lake City came in second.  Speaking of Salt Lake City,

Delta Airlines is launching a new nonstop daily flight from Tampa International Airport to Salt Lake City starting Dec. 21. 

Cue the cool graphic:

Screengrab from a Tampa International Airport video – click on picture for tweet with the video

The nonstop daily year-round flights will begin Dec. 21 on a Boeing 737, departing for Salt Lake City at 7 a.m. and arriving at 9:41 a.m. Service from Salt Lake City to Tampa will depart at 5:15 p.m. and arrive at 11:41 p.m.

That is a good schedule.

TIA has been working on getting this nonstop route for about a year, Strickland said. The airport did a study and found that Salt Lake City, as a destination, suffered from an abnormally high amount of travelers diverting from Tampa and going to Orlando to get a nonstop flight to the Utah capital. 

This flight will help retain some of those lost passengers and develop more traffic.  As usual, we also like the airport’s methodical approach;

“We added Seattle and then San Francisco and now Salt Lake City,” Lopano said in a telephone interview. “It’s very difficult to get that first route, but once you start adding routes, people start noticing. Our strategy is working. Tampa just added three (Western) destinations. Airlines have taken notice of our growing market.”

Indeed, it seems they have:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Starting later this spring and summer, Frontier Airlines will launch seasonal service to five cities from Colorado Springs. . . Later this fall, Frontier will add new seasonal service to both Fort Myers and Tampa, Fla. Frontier is offering special introductory fares as low as $29* on these new routes as of today at Flyfrontier.com. 

Once again, the airport is showing why it gets so much love in this area.

Downtown/Channel District – USF Med School

Recently, the rendering of the USF Med School was released.  For all their glitz, literally, renderings are nice but real details are nicer.  URBN Tampa Bay recently posted a first floor plan for the building.

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

You can find a bigger version here.

The notable detail is the 14,000 sq. feet of retail facing Channelside and the plaza.  It is unclear what will go there (probably a restaurant in at least one space), but having this retail is a positive sign that the building will be integrated into the surrounding area and not be just a dead academic streetscape.

Rocky Point – Hotel to Start

It seems that a hotel on Rocky Point is finally going to start construction.

A boutique hotel with a rooftop bar will celebrate its groundbreaking next week on the Rocky Point waterfront.

Current, which will be the Tampa Bay region’s third Autograph Collection by Marriott property, is a 180-room, nine-story hotel on the former Crawdaddy’s Restaurant property, which is currently used as the Rusty Pelican’s overflow parking. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated for March 30.

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

Setting aside the rendering trying to make a nine-story building look towering, the building looks fine and the rooftop bar should have great views.  We just wish that Rocky Point had been developed properly.  It has residential, office, and hotel (not to mention a great location), but they are built in such a way that it is very difficult to get around the island, certainly by walking or biking.  It could have been so much better.

Transportation – Ferry News

There was more news about the ferry ridership:

The Cross-Bay Ferry is now attracting enough riders to send money back to the local governments that helped finance the 6-month pilot project, said Ed Turanchik, a project advisor.

In just the last 40 days, Turanchik said in an email, more than $50,000 in operating revenue has been returned to the City of St. Petersburg, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.

That’s because HMS Ferries is now covering its management costs, he said, which means money from ticket sales “reverses direction and start(s) going back to the four governments.”

The “switchover” moment happened in late January, and ticket sales are accelerating, Turanchik said. The ferry sold 2,000-plus tickets during the first week of March, with as many weekday tickets sold as weekend tickets.

Which is a good sign (though nowhere near the money that local governments paid for the test), though the increase in ridership is not surprising given it is tourist season and

After a bumpy start, the CrossBay Ferry linking the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa had a good month of February, helped by slashing weekday ticket prices in half.

A record 6,070 tickets were sold last month, a 57 percent increase from January. Ferry operators credit cutting the weekday one-way fare from $10 to $5 and also cutting by half a value package. 

As we have said many times, one of the problems with the test was the high fare, so cutting prices logically brought more ridership.  On the other hand, the whole purpose of a test is to find the sweet spot (if there is one) for the fare, so good for them for adjusting. Sadly, the trial is almost over.  We would really be interested to see how the ferry functions in the summer when it is hot and rainy.

Downtown/West Tampa – Ugh

The Housing Authority is caught in another muddle (in addition to the Tempo muddle and having to ditch the initial developer for redoing North Boulevard Homes):

The Housing Authority is being sued by a developer who agreed to a $7.4 million contract to buy land and develop a hotel and residential block as part of the Encore project on the northeast edge of downtown.

The Housing Authority in July terminated its contract with Pinnacle Group Holdings after giving it two years to close on the deal, officials said. The Tampa development firm, owned by Frank DeBose, had paid a $50,000 deposit for the land and subsequently paid $250,000 in additional deposits to extend the closing date.

In what may be a first step toward a damages claim, Pinnacle is suing the Housing Authority, saying it failed to fully comply with a public records request. It is seeking records that would show that the agency was working behind the scenes to get another developer, Miami-based Related Group, to take over the project.

From the Times – click on map for article

Of course, there is another side to the story:

Housing Authority officials said the contract with Pinnacle was terminated because the firm defaulted on a $10,000 deposit required for the most recent contract extension, which was signed in April. It was the 10th revision to the original contract. There was also doubt that Pinnacle was ever going to come through with the project.

That decision did not go for approval to the Housing Authority’s governing board because it was made by Central Park Development Group, a development entity composed of the Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development Corp., said Leroy Moore, the agency’s chief operating officer.

“As we got longer and longer into the contract, we kept saying to them, ‘the extensions are going to stop,’ ” he said.

You can read the article here for all the details.   We are not going to judge any of this, because we have no basis to judge any of it.  At this point, it is just two stories being told.  The real question is whether the Housing Authority is going to sell the lots to Related and, even more importantly, why the Housing Authority seems to do everything the hard way.  With Encore now and the North Boulevard Homes on the horizon, we need the Housing Authority to focus on the actual projects not these kind of distractions.

Transportation – More Than a Rumor, Less Than a Proposal

We have often asked why the discussion regarding the Brightline (formerly All Aboard Florida) rail has been so muted here.  Frankly, we are still wondering, but there was a tidbit from Brightline itself which is intriguing.

Executives responsible for Florida’s Brightline passenger rail project say they’re open to taking passenger services to other U.S. markets that could “benefit from the type of service” Brightline offers. Tampa, Fla., is a definite.

The news comes as Florida East Coast Industries executives announced that they’ve hired a former Madison Square Garden and New York Mets executive, Dave Howard, as Brightline CEO. His job is to get the FEC subsidiary ready to start Miami-West Palm Beach passenger operations this summer. Current Brightline President Mike Reininger moves to a new position as Executive Director at FECI to concentrate on constructing the line to Orlando International Airport.

In a Trains News Wire interview with both men, Reininger made it clear that the reason for the reorganization now is that the parent company intends to expand and replicate Brightline’s passenger rail blueprint to other markets, starting with the next segment from Orlando’s airport to Tampa, Fla., while “Dave can keep his hand on the wheel of the operating company.”

“Tampa is Florida’s next largest population center. For years we’ve had an expression of interest from leaders in that marketplace who are more than a little interested in a connection into our service,” Reininger says, “So we will be able to research and apply ourselves to that opportunity for sure. And [Florida East Coast Railway] already controls the right-of-way into Jacksonville, so we will start to explore whether that is a feasible and reasonable alternative.”

The first thing to note is that they say Brightline will research the opportunity for connecting to Tampa.  There is no imminent plan, and there may never be one.  Second, it seems someone has been talking behind the scenes, though it is not clear who that was.  Regardless, if there is a statewide transportation network, we need to be connected.

And we’ll just toss this out: right now Brightline is connecting to Orlando’s airport, which is not really the best option for a connection from here to Orlando, though it is fine if you are going to Miami.  Moreover, where would the connection be in Tampa?  Would it be in the land that was to be for a high speed rail station?  Union Station, which is already built and has land around it that could be redeveloped?  Should it go all the way to the airport? What is best for the City and area? (If you look at page 25 of this consultant presentation to HART , at least one consultant thinks that the station will go where the flour mill in the Channel District now is, though we wonder if CSX would let a competitor use its rails or if the competitor would even want to.)  And, of course, none of locations have any connection to local transit – even the streetcar.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.

MacDill – The More the Merrier

MacDill may be in line to get more tankers.

The Tampa Bay Times has learned that MacDill is one of two bases competing to host 12 more KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets and the estimated 400 personnel who come with them.

That is in addition to 16 Stratotankers already there and another eight set to begin arriving this year.

The Air Force is moving the planes to make room for newer KC-46A Pegasus tankers — part of a $50 billion program to replace the aging fleet of Stratotankers with 179 new planes by 2028.

The 12 Stratotankers will be coming from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., said Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman. MacDill is competing with Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Wash., for the older jets.

The more activity at MacDill the better.  It is already an important base and more activity protects its status that much more.  The one thing we don’t get is this:

Twice, the Air Force has found MacDill unsuitable to house the new tankers.

If MacDill is good enough for the older tankers, we are not clear why it is isn’t good enough for the new ones?  We are happy to get the relocated Stratotankers and possibly some more, but we would be even happier to have the next generation.

Tampa Heights – Progress

And, just because we want to and it is a cool picture, here is the latest photo from The Heights, showing the Pearl under construction to the left.

From the Heights – click on picture for Facebook page

One thing you can really see in this picture is just how much land they have to work with and just how transformative a full build out of the Heights project would be.

Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Every now and then we come across something that we want to share but that does not really fit into a specific category.  Recently we ran across an interesting online library from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard called the Operational Excellence in Government.

The project seeks to promote government transformation through an open-access website outlining efficiency and cost savings examples. As a free resource, the Operational Excellence project eliminates common financial and functional barriers to attaining, analyzing, and implementing proven practices. The project positively impacts the ability of individual governments to share ideas and build momentum across jurisdictions to achieve operational goals.

By providing a free resource to inform and support government transformation, Operational Excellence in Government promotes the attainability of effective governance across all jurisdictions, ultimately leading to a more effective, efficient, and accountable government for all.

As the project develops we will populate the website with additional resources, case studies, and tools highlighting efficiency initiatives and successful government implementation projects.  

Basically, it is an online library of reports from various jurisdictions about efficiency and best practices.  The idea is to disseminate good ideas and make it easier to spread those practices without having to create new reports in every jurisdiction.  Our local governments, which are so fond of consultants, seem like they could use it.  It can be found here.

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