Once again the LENS Team, led by Chris Ballestra, found itself on the opaque side of transparency.
Weaverly Ann Moore, writing in the Tampa Bay Times, has a story: Scientists criticize lack of transparency in Pier plans.
This is the second time that the LENS team has tried to slip one past the people monitoring the project. Early in October, in what appeared to be a simple appropriation for Skanska, the construction management company, the City Council caught an additional $60,000 neatly tucked away.
See my post: The Lens The Real Game.
There has been an ongoing history of duck and hide on this project. Ballestra is proving to be a master at hiding stuff he does not want the public to know. Internally he has a reputation for bending the rules.
The real question: Is he operating on his own or getting direction on avoiding public scrutiny – and, if so, from whom?
Every appropriation will need to be carefully scrutinized. Every meeting must made public.
Quoting from Weaverly's article: "I think there is secrecy. It doesn't seem like a wise thing, considering the emotion and controversy involved," said Walter Jaap, a retired Fish and Wildlife Research Institute scientist, who now works as a consultant.
The last thing the LENS team wants is a lot of public scrutiny. With 23,000 petitions already signed and summarily rejected by a disingenuous City Council, and an active new petition drive to stop the project, every effort will be made to keep any authoritative dissenting voices out of the mix.
Apparently the LENS team missed Politics 101: the more you try to hide and cover up the worse you look.
The Mayor needs to put a collar on Ballestra. Appropriations, meetings and the process should be well vetted and very public. Right now they are not. The push must be for more transparency, not less.
It may be time for a change. If you can't trust the guy leading the effort, how can you ever expect to gain the public's confidence?
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Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it
properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.