The Hillsborough County Public Transportation has issued a request for proposal to hire a law firm to conduct an investigation into former executive director Kyle Cockream’s performance as the head of the agency.
The board originally voted to do so last October, following a series of media reports that showed he had used off-duty taxicab drivers in PTC ridesharing stings and made unauthorized trips to speak to the Palm Beach County Commission with officials of the cab and limo industry, among other revelations. The move was led by then PTC chairman Victor Crist, who said that the agency’s integrity had been compromised from the top down.
“The public have lost trust in our agency.” he said at the time, adding that the best way to move forward would be an independent investigation the 12,000 emails that were recently released and have been the source for multiple news agencies (including SaintPetersBlog) depicting Cockream in a negative light. He said it was “imperative that these allegations be addressed on an urgent basis.”
Cockream is no longer affiliated with the organization. His last day on the job was on December 31.
At that October meeting, Cockream vehemently disputed Crist’s comments and called the request for an investigation a “witch hunt” and a “circus.”
Chief Assistant County Attorney Jennie Tarr came before the PTC at that meeting and recommended five different law firms that could investigate the charges, offering different rates the respective firms or individuals attorneys would charge. But resistance from PTC members Frank Reddick and Dave Pogolorich precluded the agency from going ahead at the time to investigate Cockream.
Meanwhile, there is the likelihood that this will be the last year that the PTC remains in existence. Last month, the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation voted unanimously for a local bill that would eliminate the agency on December 31, 2017. “The public has lost complete faith in the ability of this agency to regulate credibly, equitably and efficiently,” said bill sponsor James Grant said before the entire delegation voted in support of his bill.
Not only is Cockream no longer part of the seemingly endless drama that the PTC has produced over the years. Crist has also stepped down from his duties, after nearly six years on the job, and has been succeeded by County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who did not immediately return a request for comment.
The PTC was scheduled to meet for the first time this year on Wednesday. That meeting has now been canceled.