Monday, November 12, 2007

Mary Mulhern, Tampa City Council, District 2 At-Large, Responds to the Tribune

Mary Mulhern, Tampa City Council, District 2 At-Large responds to the Tampa Tribune regarding "Power Shift on Boards Will Bring Less Unity and More Backbiting" (Nov. 11).
Mary Mulhern:

Your editorial on two local bills submitted to the Hillsborough legislative delegation was strangely contradictory in examining the composition of countywide boards. The Tampa Tribune defends the inclusion of the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City on the Planning Commission and Sports Authority boards, yet denies the logic and fairness of city representation on the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) board.

All of our State enacted countywide boards have representation from the County Commission, and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City - all except for the EPC. None of the other boards even has a majority of County Commissioners. My bill, sponsored by Representative Glorioso gives the County four seats, Tampa three seats, Plant City and Temple Terrace one seat each – a composition in line with the Planning Commission, Sports Authority, Public Transportation Commission, Metropolitan Planning Organization and Port Authority.

To say that I "...erred in starting this dustup" ignores the reality of Hillsborough County politics. Representative Ambler asked last year for more seats for the County on the Planning Commission and Sports Authority and promised to bring the bill back this year. Adding the EPC (with a County Commission majority) in no way disguises the Commission's continued push for control of all boards.

The recent conduct of the EPC board evidences the problems inherent in a regulatory board overseeing itself. With the board made up exclusively of County Commissioners, a conflict arises when the agency wishes to bring an action against the county. Another reality is the undue influence that certain special interests exert over the County Commision representatives. A diverse board from all four government bodies -- with no single entity having a dominating majority -- would reduce the threat of special interests controlling the shared resources of the county and the three municipalities.

The EPC regulates air, water and noise pollution, not just wetlands. The cities are also home to the Hillsborough River, the coast of the bays, lakes, canals and creeks. Cities produce by far the largest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. The global environmental crisis we face makes it imperative that we not delay any action that can better protect our resources and reduce our contribution to the looming hazards of climate change.

Hundreds of constituents are protesting the stewardship of the EPC board by the County Commission. Our state legislative delegation should heed the voices of Hillsborough County, Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City and vote for fair representation on the EPC board. My bill gives our state representatives the opportunity to stand up for a power share, and face down a power grab. This bill is about protecting the environment for our children and grandchildren, not protecting anyone's political turf.
--Mary Mulhern, Tampa City Council, District 2 At-Large


bobnbob said...

Thank you Mary Mulhern for being a sane voice in local government. I am in total agreement, and being a county resident, I want my fellow "city dwellers" to have a voice and vote too. Thank you for bringing the dominating presence to light for those of us who don't pay attention, don't have an integral part in the ways and workings of our area, in other words, we the ignorant.

I knew I supported the smartest candidate in the race, and it seems I support one of the smartest on the board!

Mariella said...

I support the proposal to change the makeup of the EPC board and wrote about it here.

“Let’s don’t forget: not only did our BOCC/EPC recently vote 4-3 to eliminate our local wetlands protections, only to have to back down in the face of massive public outrage; but before that, last spring they refused (in a 5-2 vote) to oppose state legislation that would have eliminated our local wetlands protections. That legislation fizzled after Governor Crist promised to veto it. Notably, the Tampa City Council voted unanimously to do exactly what the County Commission refused to do: write a letter defending the EPC against the proposed legislation that would have eliminated local wetlands protections across the state. Both Tampa & Temple Terrace unanimously opposed the county’s effort to eliminate the EPC wetlands division.”

Mary Mulhern does a good job explaining the issues in this brief interview on WMNF.

Let your legislators know what you think.