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Next weeks Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida will be held at The Tampa Bay Time Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was paid for primarily with tax dollars. Seven bond issues issued in 1996 for construction, according to the St. Petersburg Times, are being paid off with a combination of revenues from sales taxes, tourist development taxes, and ticket surcharges. The facility is legally owned by Hillsborough County, which leases it the Tampa Bay Sports Authority. County ownership keeps the property off the local property tax rolls.
So it’s ironic, to say the least, that the GOP has adopted “We Built It” as their theme for the 2012 convention. As Media Matters has pointed out, this premise is build upon the Fox news’ distortion of one part of President Obama’s remarks tying the success of businesses to “this unbelievable American System” that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.
The Federal Election Commission, financed by 33 million tax payers who direct $3 of their taxes towards election costs, has given the Republican Party more than $18 million in grants to be used towards the costs of the “We Built It” convention. (The Dems received a matching amount towards their convo.) Tampa Bay & Charlotte, NC have each received $50 million in grant money from the federal government to beef up law enforcement capabilities.
The majority of the grant money in Tampa will be used for paying the costs of public employees brought in from other jurisdictions to aid in security August 27-30. Downtown has been wired up with an additional 60 cameras, which, along with airborne surveillance equipment, will feed data into tax payer funded databases running facial recognition software (developed for the Pentagon) that boasts facial recognition rates of 99.7 percent for well-lit, frontal photos. And local tax payers have coughed up an additional $2.7 million for “beautification” projects around the city.