Why Won't the City's LENS Team Follow the Rules?

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.

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? 

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request. 

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom Lambdon - VOTEONTHEPIER.COM November 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Chris Ballestra is paid $140K a year with benefits by the taxpayers of the City - to deliberately lie to the public on a consistent basis - to help other City "leaders" in their efforts to PUSH the lens upon City residents - when they ALL KNOW the majority of the City DOES NOT support their half-baked and irresponsible plan - in addition to the way this whole Pier issue has been handled since Leslie Curran was given WAY too much oversight of this very costly long-term project regarding the centerpiece of the downtown waterfront - dating back to August 2010. While Leslie Curran's political career is clearly over - City residents should still maintain how badly and unfairly this entire Pier issue has been handled - with just a handful of City "leaders" at the helm of a ship that is headed for disaster. There likely has never been a better example - other than Albert Whitted Airport and the original construction of what is today Tropicana Field - what a Citywide referendum was designed to accomplish. The sitting Council KNOWS they would be told by City VOTERS to simply refurbish the existing Pier. The lens MUST be stopped - and the more than 23,000 City VOTERS that have already completed and submitted petitions between Nov 2010 and now need for THEIR voices to be heard regarding the fate and future of THEIR Pier. Period. On Wednesday December the 5th a Pinellas County Judge will decide if she believes 23,000 City VOTERS should be deliberately ignored any longer.
Nicolas Weathersbee November 04, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Do they somehow think 23,000 voters will just quite being angry and go away? What planet do they live on?
Red November 09, 2012 at 01:34 PM
OMG Doc, the picture says it all.
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