SAFETY HARBOR – Safety Harbor, you are being lied to.
And it’s time to call “Bulls*-#.”
Local elections in this town have never set the highest of standards for honesty, self-awareness and fair play, but this year’s edition has proven to be more deceptive than Jessie Smollett spending “A Weekend At Bernie’s.”
Supposedly, the truth can set you free. But in the case of Tanja Vidovic for mayor, it seems to serve only as an inconvenient obstacle to work around.
There are lies: “It must have gone to my SPAM folder.” “My phone died.” “I don’t care about looks as much as I do personality.” “Let’s just do one more.” “Size doesn’t matter.”
Then there are blatant, calculated, fraudulent untruths designed to mislead, distort and deceive the masses.
And those have really started to “pile” up here lately.
Thank goodness for the BS Amplifier Meter, which, with uncanny accuracy, has ranked Vidovic’s campaign rhetoric as could only be done by the skills of a Ph. D – Piled Higher and Deeper.
Just as Washington Post fact-checkers rank the degree of political untruths by the number of “Pinocchios” each receive, we will keep score in a similar fashion.
BS: Safety Harbor’s remarkable transformation from backwater slum to The Jewel of Tampa is the result of crooked city leaders.
Fact: Not a single shred of evidence, not a single paper trail, not even a whisper of a confirmed rumor has been produced to substantiate this lie that Tanja’s side keeps passing around like a doobie at a stoners’ convention.
BS: The city gave away $180,000 in tax dollars to Bay-To-Bay Properties for construction of the new mixed-use Key West-style building on Main Street.
Fact: The $180,000 was REFUNDED through parkland and tree mitigation fees that the builder had already paid the city. By refunding money already paid by Bay-To-Bay the city received numerous concessions from the builder, including input regarding design, size and additional parking.
And considering the publicly acclaimed $8 million project will produce in the neighborhood of $100,000 in annual tax revenue for the City of Safety Harbor and pumped vitality into our town center, there is only one logical question: When can we do that again?
BS: Vidovic has spent weeks claiming in public and social media that Ayoub has raised taxes.
Fact: She has been corrected multiple times by multiple people but continues to plant the seeds of this lie.
It wasn’t until after her largest audience, the Chamber’s Forum, reacted harshly, she begrudgingly acknowledged it was not a proven fact.
BS: Developers are poised to “clear cut,” every tree in town to over-build Safety Harbor.
Fact: Safety Harbor has a total area of 5.1 miles. To its east is Old Tampa Bay. To the south is the Clearwater city limits. To the west, McMullen Booth Road. To the north, Oldsmar.
Safety Harbor can not get bigger if it wanted to.
This is the greatest boom era in Safety Harbor history, but there is very little new development taking place because Safety Harbor is already built out.
There is no virgin land in Safety Harbor. There is not a house in town – no matter how old and “rustic” it may be – that did not take out trees so it could be built.
There is, however, lots and lots of revitalization taking place, as falling-down, distressed properties are giving way to new and improved redevelopment.
In most communities, that’s considered a blessing.
Tanja Vidovic was fired from a job with the City of Safety Harbor leisure services by Mayor Ayoub after she declared her intention to run against him.
Truth: The City of Safety Harbor government structure does not give its mayor authority to hire or fire. Vidovic’s termination letter came from leisure services, and specifically cited her workplace behavior and treatment of co-workers.
BS: Vidovic is a qualified candidate, whose professional career resume’ is being unfairly critiqued.
Fact: Vidovic has never held political office, nor served on any governmental board. She has no experience managing a business budget.
She does carry a great amount of personal baggage that includes multiple lawsuits against multiple employers, along with conflict and controversy at every stop.
Something about this whole campaign just doesn’t smell right.