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

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

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.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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