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Mitch Perry Report for 11.10.16 — The ‘What do we now?’ moment for the president-elect

As Donald Trump publicly laid low and dealt with officials about how the transition of his administration will begin, I couldn’t help but recall that often-referred-to famous final scene from the 1972 Michael Ritchie film, “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford.

Bill McKay, the novice (played by Redford) who has just won an improbable victory for the U.S. Senate, turns dazedly to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?”

What will the 45th POTUS do? No doubt the Affordable Care Act will be repealed, but what takes its place? Since policy was never emphasized during this campaign, I’m not sure too many of us (especially those of us on the ACA) are aware what that will be, presumably conceived by House and Senate leaders.

Border security will no doubt be emphasized with the building of a wall along the Mexican border. Trump also has talked about tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and seeks to create a “special deportation task force”. Although Kellyanne Conway says that task force will first focus on “the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants,” Trump has made clear any undocumented migrants could be affected.

He has talked tough when it comes to guns and criminal justice reform. That could include turning back the Obama administration’s efforts to address mass incarceration. And what about the bipartisan effort in Capitol Hill on criminal justice reform? Again, details are needed.

And what about foreign policy, specifically Syria, the No. 1 burning problem in the world. Going back to when I first encountered the 15 (at the time) Republicans running for president who met in Nashua, New Hampshire in 2015, the overwhelming criticism was about Barack Obama‘s foreign policy. Hearing their criticism, I wondered, frankly, how would they handle some of the world’s most vexing problems? Does anyone really know the agenda from the man who said he “knows more than the generals” about combating ISIS, for example. “Take their oil” and “bombing the sh*t out of them” is going to have to be fleshed out a little more, one would think.

Trump has said contradictory things about NATO. That may be predicated on the first Trump-Vladimir Putin sit-down. After months of speculation about what type of relationship they might have, we’ll find out soon enough what Trump is willing to allow Putin to get away with — which may not bother too many Americans, but will freak out some of our allies overseas.

There’s roughly 100 days left before the president-elect becomes the president. And hopefully we’ll have a clearer idea of what lies ahead of us over the next four years.

In other news …

Uber and Lyft are finally street legal in Hillsborough County, though of course, not without controversy.

The PTC’s executive director, chairman and a board member with the agency all announced their departure on Wednesday.

The one bright spot for Hillsborough Democrats was Andrew Warren’s narrow victory as state attorney.

Marco Rubio defined Donald Trump’s upset victory as a “rejection of business-as-usual” in D.C. politics.

Tampa City Council members are pleased the charter amendment that will allow them to request internal audits was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

Hillsborough County PTC approves temporary agreement to allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally

After more than two and a half years of operating in violation of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Agency, ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft are now legal to operate in the county — for at least another 13 months.

The board voted 4-3 Wednesday to approve two new temporary operating agreements (TOAs) negotiated by outgoing PTC Chairman Victor Crist and officials with the two companies. It comes after at-times agonizing debates on the commission that led to a flood of bad blood between the companies and the PTC, acrimony this most recent vote did not completely change.

Joining Crist in supporting the proposal were Plant City Commissioner Nate Kilton, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, and County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

Temple Terrace Councilman David Pogolorich, County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, and Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick dissented.

“Today’s agreement on a temporary operating agreement means that riders and drivers have continued access to safe, reliable affordable rides and flexible work opportunities through the Uber platform in Hillsborough County,” said Uber spokesman Colin Tooze.

The new deal mandates that Uber and Lyft drivers undergo a Level I background check “with teeth,” which encompasses a stateside criminal records search along with a search of federal court records, and state and national sex offender databases for seven years.

That’s different than the Level II background checks other PTC commissioners wanted — and which Uber and Lyft said was a deal breaker which would compel them to leave the market if approved.

Higginbotham opposed the new temporary agreement because he said state law requires the PTC to fingerprint drivers.

The agreements will now be folded into previously existing litigation involving both companies with the 2nd District Court of Appeal that will dissolve those lawsuits. Uber and Lyft challenged the PTC’s authority to impose rules, as did West Coast Transportation Services, a limousine company in Tampa that says they want to get into the ridesharing agreement, and also challenge the PTC’s authority.

Immediately after the PTC’s vote effectively legalizing Uber and Lyft, they passed proposed “emergency rules” that in some ways contradict the new temporary agreement, but will allow other ridesharing companies (not named Uber or Lyft) to have the ability to operate in Hillsborough County.

That vote alienated officials with Uber and Lyft.

“You’ve had CEOs in this community boasting of the fact that they have colluded with incumbent interests to write these rules to limit competition,” Tooze said.

“We are disappointed that separate rules adopted by the PTC would stifle modern options like ridesharing, and we will immediately appeal the passage of these regulations,” added Chelsea Harrison, a spokesperson for Lyft.

Both Uber and Lyft say they look forward to working with the Florida Legislature in the upcoming session to enact uniform statewide rules for ridesharing, which still don’t exist.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Uber and Lyft drivers once again came out to speak in support of the PTC creating a legal framework for the companies to operate in the county, while critics said the temporary agreements with Uber and Lyft were unfair, since they shut out other startup ridesharing companies. “We need industrywide rules and industrywide TOAs, not for two corporate monopolies, at the expense of the traveling public,” said Seth Mills, an attorney representing taxicab and limousines in Tampa.

“What we did today was history,” said an exultant Crist at one point in the meeting, his last after leading the agency for nearly six years. He will be succeeded by Higginbotham.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 11.8.16 — Getting the results before the polls close

The last presidential contest I really didn’t pay that much attention to was back in 1980, but I do remember this: I was in high school, and I had the TV on but the sound down when Jimmy Carter came out at around 6:15 PST to announce he was conceding the election. It was pretty early in the evening, but it was obvious Carter wasn’t going to catch up to Ronald Reagan that night.

Although Carter wanted to get the misery over with, his early concession speech angered people in California on the West Coast, where there were still hours before the polls closed. Every election since then (except for those that went into overtime), have not been declared by the networks and the Associated Press until 11 p.m. Eastern, when all the polls are closed.

That is supposed to change tonight.

As reported by POLITICO on Monday, “Slate and Vice News have partnered with Votecastr, a company helmed by Obama and Bush campaign veterans, to provide real-time projections of how the candidates are faring in each state throughout the day. They expect to begin posting projections at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Election Day — a dramatic departure from current practice, where representatives from a consortium of news organizations (The Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News) huddle in a quarantine room without cell phones, poring over the earliest exit poll data but declining to release anything that points to an election result until all the polls have closed.”

POLITICO also will be working with Morning Consult to conduct a survey of voters after they have cast ballots. Voters will complete the interviews over the internet, beginning one hour after the polls open in their state. Respondents will be asked whether they have voted, and how they voted: either using early voting, by mail or on Election Day in person. POLITICO and Morning Consult will report on some of the results during the day.

I don’t know what any of this means, but let’s face it: in recent elections, people sit around most of the day on Election Day, with nothing to do with polls being meaningless (“the only poll that matters is on Election Day”) but no returns to review until the early evening.

There is some of that infamous exit poll research the networks will start reporting on after 5 p.m. but we all learned after 2004 not to take them too seriously, right, President Kerry?

Personally, I’ll be interested in some House races in Hillsborough County which could go either way — in House Districts 59, 60, and 63.

Have a great day.

In other news …

HART CFO Jeff Seward is going to the International Climate Change Conference in the U.K. next spring, the first representative from a North American transit agency to be invited to the annual event.

On the eve of a Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission meeting on a temporary agreement with Uber and Lyft, a limousine company based in Tampa says they want to become a ridesharing company as well, and is going to court to challenge the agency.

Marco Rubio made a last-day campaign appearance in Brandon yesterday, where he said he thinks the increase in Latino voters in the early vote bodes well for his chances tonight.

Eric Seidel is thinking he can peel off some wayward Democrats in his bid to defeat Pat Frank in the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race tonight.

In a Vice News interview last night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Bernie Sanders campaign made her into a “bogeyman” for her role at the DNC.

Limousine company sues Hillsborough PTC, says they want to be ridesharing company

With the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission poised to perhaps finally approve new rules that would legalize the use of ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, now a local limousine company has filed suit against the local agency.

West Coast Transportation Services filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging whether the PTC has the authority to regulate transportation network companies (TNC’s), another term for ridesharing companies.

In the suit, filed in the 13th judicial circuit in Hillsborough County, West Coast Transportation says they are now seeking to provide transportation services as a transportation network company (TNC), but while they have been given written authority by the PTC, they have not been granted legal authority to do so.

The fact of the matter is that as things stand today, no ridesharing companies have the legal authority to operate in Hillsborough County. That hasn’t stopped Uber and Lyft from doing so since they entered the market in April of 2014. Over the past month, outgoing PTC Chairman Victor Crist has worked with Uber on a set of proposed new rules which the company says they could adhere to, which could mean they would finally be operating legally in the county. Those new rules do NOT include a Level II background check, which would include drivers being fingerprinted. Officials with Uber and Lyft have said that is a deal breaker. Uber did leave the Austin, Texas market earlier this year when that local government mandated such checks.

“West Coast is in doubt as to whether the PTC has regulatory authority over its fleet and transportation network company operations,” reads the lawsuit. “The PTC has nonetheless repeatedly asserted it has such regulatory authority, yet in some cases has agreed not to issue citations to the TNCs in conformance with the Special Act and its associated rules (the ‘PTC Rules’).”

Uber and Lyft have been involved with their own lawsuits against the PTC, arguing that the citations issued against their drivers were created for the cab/limo industry, and shouldn’t apply to them.

West Coast Transportation Services or West Coast Shuttle is owned by Lou Minardi, who also owns Yellow Cab Company of Tampa, one of the leading critics of Uber and Lyft’s operations in Hillsborough County.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Seth Mills, a regular visitor to PTC meetings who has inveighed against the ridesharing companies as well. He was not immediately available for comment.

The PTC is poised to vote on Crist’s proposed new rules for ridesharing on Wednesday.

Uber, Google develop app for Election Day rides

your-voting-place-uberElection Day is only days away, and Uber and Google have teamed up to help voters cast ballots.

As part of its ongoing campaign to boost the turnout among Uber users, the San Francisco-based ridesharing service has worked with Google on a special in-app feature available Nov. 8 that will help locate polling locations  — and quickly request a ride with a simple tap on the smartphone.

On Election Day, Uber users will see a reminder to get out and vote; the unique feature will let them enter the address where they are registered, helping to locate the appropriate polling sites by hitting the “Find Your Polling Place” button before requesting a ride.

uber-vote-nov-8New Uber users riding for the first time can enter the code VOTETODAY for $20 off. Unlike other Uber promotions, trips will be subject to standard charges, with no free or discounted rides for existing users on Election Day.

According to the Uber blog: “Given the important decision people around the country will make on Nov. 8, we wanted to make getting to and from your polling place easier than ever.”

Hungry? Call Uber

Uber will officially expand the UberEATS Tampa Bay app to include St. Petersburg beginning at 11 a.m Wednesday.

In honor of this expansion, free delivery will be offered to those in the coverage area for a limited time. The coverage area for this expansion currently includes areas east of 71st Street North/Belcher Road.

Delivery is available from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week. If the restaurant is shown as open and serving on the UberEATS app during that time, customers will be able to place an order.

With the UberEATS app, St. Petersburg customers have access to menus of more than 50 restaurants, including Bodega, Buya St. Petersburg, Central Melt, Chi-Town Beefs and Dogs, Fresh Kitchen, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, La V, Noble Crust, Skyway Jack’s St. Petersburg, Taco Bus St. Petersburg, the Queens Head Eurobar, Thirsty First, Urban Brew & BBQ, Urban Comfort, Urban Creamery, and Urban Deli and Drafts.  To see participating restaurants, check the UberEATS app in St. Petersburg.

Uber, headquartered in San Francisco, is best know for its transportation service. Users with smartphones can submit a request for a ride using the Uber app. The application notifies the nearest Uber driver, who then comes to pick up the passenger. The app calculates the fee and automatically transfers the payment to the driver.

More recently, Uber has expanded its services to include meal and beer delivery in some markets. Uber is in 518 cities around the world.

Hillsborough PTC head Kyle Cockream calls possible investigation into his conduct ‘a witch-hunt’

Despite the aims of Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission Chairman Victor Crist and county attorneys, Kyle Cockream is still the agency’s executive director, following a raucous board meeting Tuesday. The agency ultimately voted 3-2 to make a request for proposal to potentially hire a law firm at their next meeting next month to conduct an investigation into recent revelations about Cockream’s performance as the head of the agency.

Crist called last week for an emergency meeting of the PTC to discuss Cockream’s fate, 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.

“Our agency’s integrity has been compromised from the top down,” Crist said at the beginning of the meeting. “The public have lost trust in our agency.” He then said 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.”

Crist said once the emails were made public several weeks ago, he asked PTC attorneys to pull out those they believed were “problematic.” The results, he said, “were shocking.”

When it was time for him to speak, Cockream let loose, describing the proceedings as “a circus” and a “witch-hunt.” He said he knew it was a witch-hunt because Crist told him two weeks ago that it “wouldn’t be a witch-hunt.”

“Mr. Crist and I have an extreme different version of some incidents that have happened,” he said.

Media reports have shown Cockream working with members of the taxicab and limousine industry he is charged with overseeing. Not only does he disagree with that perception, but so do the members of those industries, several of whom are featured in the emails. Many of those officials spoke out in support of him at todays’ meeting, while criticizing Crist.

Chief Assistant County Attorney Jennie Tarr came before the PTC and recommended five different law firms that could investigate the charges, offering different rates the respective firms or individuals attorneys would charge. She also mentioned the board could choose to terminate Cockream at the meeting, or allow him to resign.

And that’s where things got interesting.

“It seems like there’s a sense of a personal assault on the executive director’s character and integrity here today,” said Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick. “I hope the gentleman will have a chance to defend himself, because this is a sham what is taking place this morning. It’s been a sham of the stuff I read in the press.”

Reddick then questioned whether Tarr had any discussions with Crist before the meeting. She said she had one conversation after being asked by the county attorney to attend the meeting, but did not talk about any of the legal firms or other specific issues that had already been discussed.

Temple Terrace Councilmember David Pogorilich also strongly backed Cockream, saying that if he had come to him with his plans for using taxicab and limousine personnel to help with a sting operation, he was all for it. “Uber and Lyft are the ones who are breaking the rules. Uber and Lyft are the ones who are snubbing us. Uber and Lyft are the ones who are being noncooperative,” he said, referring to the fact that both ridesharing companies are considered by the PTC to be operating illegally (A proposed plan regarding background checks and other issues that has been endorsed by Uber will come before the PTC at their next scheduled meeting in November).

“Nothing has been done wrong here,” Pogorilich, comparing Uber and Lyft to Bonnie and Clyde. “But at the end of the day, they were just bank robbers.”

But Crist pushed back, saying that if the PTC didn’t do an investigation, “this agency will be guaranteed to be shut down by the Legislature during session. Guaranteed.”

Crist announced last month he would resign as chairman of the PTC in November. Reddick said good riddance, essentially: “It’s you who has taken this personally. I guarantee you, with you not sitting in that chair, it will be a better agency moving forward.”

“Probably a better agency for the cab companies, but not for the people we serve,” responded Crist.

Cockream defended himself from allegations he is working illicitly with the cab or limousine industries, saying that he has to honor public record requests, regardless of who is making such a request. “I can’t discriminate and not give up that information because it’s a cab company, or a limo company, or an ambulance company. I must relinquish that information.”

Ultimately, only Commissioner Ken Hagan joined with Crist in supporting a vote to immediately select a law firm, instead voting 3-2 to support Pogorilich’s motion to call for an RFP to look at hiring such firms next month. “The executive director should enforce the laws. However, knowing the agency’s history, the sensitivity with the ridesharing issue, and the public perception of the agency, the executive director should have the utmost prudence and discretion,” Hagan said. “I do not believe that happened here (board members Al Higginbotham and Nate Kilton were not present).

But the meeting wasn’t done. Crist went ahead and began discussing with Tarr the idea of putting Cockream on paid leave. That left the discussion about whether the board would need an interim director.

When Tarr mentioned she had already reached out to former interim PTC head David Jackson as a possibility, shouts of “conspiracy” were made by Reddick, who erupted, calling it “professionally unethical.”

Pogorilich said it was “orchestrated,” and again challenged Tarr about how many conversations, emails, or other messages she sent to Crist. Again, she said there had been only one previous conversation.

Board member Guido Maniscalco voted with Pogorilich and Reddick in opposing an immediate investigation or putting Cockream on paid leave. He said nothing during the meeting except when he was temporary chair. Afterwards, he said he voted the way he did because he thought the entire board should weigh in at one time.

The recent revelations prompted the agency’s numerous critics to pounce, and Tampa House District 60 Republican (and state Senate candidate) Dana Young has called for the FDLE to investigate the agency.

The PTC’s next meeting is Nov. 9.

 

Newly released emails show Hillsborough County PTC head’s cozy relationship with limo and taxicab industry

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission’s mandate is to regulate for-hire vehicles in the county, which includes taxicabs, limousines, and in the past couple of years, ridesharing companies — which the agency considers to be operating outside the law. But newly unearthed emails show that PTC executive director Kyle Cockream worked with the taxi cab and limo industry to advocate for their cause, against ridesharing companies.

“Make me an inspector, I’ll clean it up,” wrote Ray Sabb with Gulf Shore Limos in Sarasota, in an email to Cockream in January of this year. “Every trip I make to the airport I will challenge these moonlighters. Including the TNC guys. Wouldn’t that be a hoot. Limo driver and inspector … (No conflict here) …,” he wrote.

As was initially reported last week, Cockream ultimately DID use employees from the cab and limo industry to help the PTC bust Uber and Lyft drivers. That revelation compelled state Rep. Dana Young this week to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the PTC. Now, a new batch of emails shows how Cockream communicated with officials in the cab and limo industry, seemingly as their advocate.

After Uber issued a statement to their supporters last October advocating that they attend an upcoming PTC workshop to tell the agency to support “sensible regulations,” Brook Negusei of Luxury Transportation of Tampabay forwarded the email to Cockream, writing that, “We should urge everyone in Hillsborough County to do the same.” Cockream responds, “Thanks, they are doing the same thing in Sarasota for their meeting tonight. Drivers need to attend the PTC meeting to have their voice heard if they expect change.”

When the Tampa Chamber of Commerce was hosting public policy discussion at the Holiday Inn in Westshore scheduled to feature representatives from Uber and the Tampa Bay Taxicab & Limousine Coalition last October, Cockream forwarded the press release to PTC staffer Kimberly Kerwin, with the instructions to, “Please send out to the industry as an FYI.”

Upon perusing a story written by Mike Salinero in the Tampa Tribune on New Year’s Eve of 2015 about how Uber would be employing its surge pricing model (which could result in its rates going up as much as three times the normal rate), Cockream forwarded the link to the story to Negusei with the admonition, “This article would be a good one to comment on if you feel so inclined, specifically concerning the availability of a luxury taxi, and that the minimum fare is now $30, not $50.”

Neguesei then writes back that he just got his “two cents” in the comments section of the story.

“Part of our work involves sharing information related to the for-hire transportation companies doing business legally in the county,” Cockream said Thursday. “Whether it’s sharing information related to meetings or news articles, our goal is to have information widely available as we all try to work toward a solution for rideshare companies to operate legally in the county. We encourage everyone to participate in the information-sharing process to have their voices heard.”

Officials with Uber didn’t take the same attitude.

“If one thing has become clear in the past week, it’s that there is a top-to-bottom culture of collusion at the PTC, which has actively worked to enrich special interests at the expense of people who rely on ridesharing,” said Uber spokesman Colin Tooze.

The recent revelations emanating from Cockream’s emails have prompted PTC Chairman Victor Crist to call for an emergency meeting next week.

 

Victor Crist calls for emergency meeting regarding Hillsborough PTC executive director Kyle Cockream

Rocked by recent revelations about Hillsborough County Public Transportation executive director Kyle Cockream, PTC board chairman Victor Crist is calling for an emergency meeting of the board next week to deal with the situation.

“I am scheduling an emergency meeting of the Public Transportation Commission Board with our legal counsel and germane support for the purpose of discussing recent allegations attacking the integrity, character, and independence of our director, staff, and board,” Crist wrote to PTC board members on Thursday.

Crist is calling for a meeting to be held either Oct. 26 or 27 at 9 a.m. Two PTC board members — Guido Maniscalco and Frank Reddick — serve on the Tampa City Council, which meets every Thursday at 9 a.m.

A large batch of emails regarding Cockream’s actions have been obtained by the media in the past week, with the biggest revelation being that the PTC used employees from local taxicab and limousine companies to assist in PTC-led sting operations to issue citations to Lyft and Uber drivers.

Other emails have revealed Cockream shared correspondence between the agency’s lobbying firm with cab companies on opposing state legislation that would legalize ridesharing.

Yet other emails revealed Cockream had coordinated with taxicab and limousine officials while addressing the Palm Beach County Commission at a ridesharing workshop, though he had previously said he was in Palm Beach on vacation and dropped in on the meeting.

Maniscalco says the most egregious revelation he’s seen is the report of using taxicab and limo officials to assist in citing ridesharing drivers. “Regarding the sting operation, it was just totally unnecessary to collaborate with the taxicab companies when we have a paid PTC staff inspector and whatnot who could have handled it on their own,” he said Thursday. “There was no need to do it.”

Maniscalco says he is less troubled by other reports that have surfaced with the emails.

Tampa House District 60 Republican Dana Young has called for an FDLE investigation into the agency after the reports, but Maniscalco dismisses that call as a “political thing.”

“I don’t know what the FDLE will find,” he said. “He made a mistake. I don’t know what the investigation will find.”

The PTC’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Nov. 9. That’s when they’re supposed to vote on a proposed temporary agreement Uber has approved that could finally provide the legal framework to legalize ridesharing in Hillsborough County.

Dana Young calls for FDLE investigation into Hillsborough County PTC

In the aftermath of published reports about questionable decisions made by Hillsborough County Public Transportation Executive Director Kyle Cockream over the past year, Tampa state Rep. Dana Young is calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to conduct an investigation into the agency.

“When the line is blurred between the regulator and the entities they regulate, the public cannot rely on impartiality in the government,” wrote Young in her letter to the FDLE. “The disturbing revelations of the relationship between the PTC, Mr. Cockream, and members of the taxi industry in Hillsborough County merit a full review to determine if ethical or legal boundaries have been violated.”

Among the revelations that came to light last week through a release of a large number of emails, was that Cockream coordinated with local taxicab and limousine firms to fine rideshare drivers. Members of those companies acted as would-be passengers and lured Uber and Lyft drivers to pick them up before PTC agents cited them. Officially, the PTC has considered Uber and Lyft to be operating illegally since they began operating in the county beginning in the spring of 2014.

Cockream also traveled twice to appear before the Palm Beach County Commission in the past year when that government body discussed ridesharing. He appeared at the same time in both meetings with representatives from the taxicab and limousine industry. The PTC’s mission is to regulate taxicab, limousine, and now ridesharing operations in an even, fair fashion.

“The PTC has a sordid history marred by scandals of former board members and conflicts of interest with previous senior agency personnel,” Young said in her letter. “The history of recurrent and pervasive improprieties by the PTC has resulted in multiple attempts by the Florida Legislature to repeal the regulatory body.”

The PTC was marred by a tawdry reputation for years long before Uber and Lyft ever came to Tampa. A former PTC board chairman — Kevin White — spent time in federal prison after being convicted in 2011 of accepting at least $6,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman seeking to curry favor with him in his official role. Incidents like that led some local leaders like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to call for the agency to be dissolved. Those calls have been echoed by Tampa Bay area state legislators like Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant in recent years, who have proposed bills to do that, though such efforts have come up short.

Young, a South Tampa Republican, is now running for the state Senate 18 district race against Democrat Bob Buesing and independent candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

Through a spokesman, Cockream is offering no comment.

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