Hillsborough PTC Calls For Investigation Of Executive Director
Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission will have an independent third party investigate an alleged sting operation by executive director Kyle Cockream.
Cockream allegedly had taxi drivers pose as Uber and Lyft customers so the ride-sharing companies would be ticketed for operating an illegal service.
It was decided in a 3-2 vote during an emergency meeting Tuesday for the investigation to begin with Request for Proposals to outside firms to conduct the internal investigation.
Cockream argued that he was only enforcing what the PTC wanted in terms of writing tickets, but PTC Chair, Victor Crist said the way he went about it was unethical.
“This isn’t about people, it is about the agency, the integrity of this agency and what we are responsible for doing and the expectations of the people who expect us to do it,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times uncovered thousands of emails that showed Cockream’s plans for a sting operation.
Cockream called the situation a “witch hunt” and a “circus.” His attorney, Mike Carey agreed.
“Kyle Cockream has done nothing but do his job and for that his getting castigated,” he said.
At the meeting, board members were given options of placing Cockream on a paid leave of absence during the investigation, terminating him or having him voluntarily resign.
When it was suggested that they hire an interim executive director, preferably former director Kevin Jackson, for a few months, board member Frank Reddick said the entire meeting seemed to be pre-meditated.
“This is a conspiracy here,” he said. “You’re telling me that you have spoken with someone about this position and we haven’t voted yet and you have colluded with this Mr. Jackson and he’s willing to take the position? Hell, we ain’t voted! How do you know we're gonna make a decision today and you’ve already spoken with someone? This is a shame.”
Crist said, and often throughout the meeting, that his fellow peers should have been prepared.
“I wish members of this board would do their due diligence, I really would,” he said. “The public expects that at least of you. Do your homework.”
PTC Vice-chair, David Pogorilich said during the two-hour meeting, that they need to remember who the real “bad guy” is.
“Uber and Lyft are the ones that are breaking the rules,” he said. “Uber and Lyft are the ones who are snubbing us. Uber and Lyft are the ones that are being non-cooperative. Who cares who we use to do a sting operation?”
Cockream will continue to work as usual since no decision was made about his position.
After the meeting, Cockream said he didn’t feel vindicated about anything.
“I’m absolutely guilty of people who are legal,” he said. “Absolutely. I’ve had 30 years of saying I’m more favorable of people that are legal and I think that’s something that keeps getting missed here.”
Their next meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 9.