Posted by Sharon Calvert
Eye on Tampa Bay
We need problem solving public policies not agenda based policies. So yes as Salinero stated I will be watching this process closely and suggest all taxpayers in Hillsborough County do as well. Or hold on to your wallets!How prescient....because the process ended up creating a $1.35 million taxpayer funded crony mess resulting in a flawed proposed huge $3.5 - 7 Billion sales tax hike.
No one at County Center or the county commissioners can feign ignorance about this mess. They were warned and those warnings are publicly documented.
We have documented the cronyism, the deception, the flawed process, the half-truths, the flat out lies, what appears to be violations of our Sunshine laws, what could be violations of our electioneering laws, violations of provisions within Parson's CCNA umbrella contract and the phoniness that has surrounded the entire Go Hillsborough campaign.
The problems are not going away. Certainly Mike Merrill, Parsons, Bob Clifford, Beth Leytham and the county commissioners cannot think these issues are going to go into hiding and be swept under the rug while law enforcement is investigating.
They better think again.
WTSP's Noah Pransky's latest 10 Investigates reveals that some county commissioners intentionally and consistently use their personal email accounts to have private discussions about county business. As reported by Pransky, the commissioners did not hand over these emails when requested via Statute 119 public records requests until a private citizen threatened legal action.
Those public records – never produced for 10 Investigates by commissioners – reveal that not all the emails were personal in nature, with many dealing with county-related topics such as transportation expansion (now dubbed "Go Hillsborough") as well as coordination on newspaper op-eds Leytham helped the commissioners write.
The 85 emails from Hagan and 27 emails from Murman also demonstrate how frequently the commissioners use their personal AOL accounts to discuss public business. And the failure to turn the documents over to 10 Investigates, despite several requests, raises new questions about whether additional electronic communications may exist between the county's most powerful politicians and one of its most powerful behind-the-scenes operatives.Hmmm Sound familiar? There's no private servers sitting in a bathroom but these commissioners intentionally used their personal email accounts to secretly discuss county business with the politically well connected PR lobbyist Beth Leytham. How many more secret emails or text messages exist like these and what do they say? Taxpayers and voters deserve to know.
Leytham has been dubbed the "Queen of Damage Control" but we'll shorten it to "Queen Beth" because she is now Queen of all the damage she herself has created but cannot control, regardless of how many times the Tribune tries to circle their wagons to cover for her.
Queen Beth blurs all lines between the many hats she wears -- political consultant, close advisor, close friend, close associate, lobbyist, campaign consultant, private citizen, candidate volunteer. She uses those hats for easy access to the electeds, Mike Merrill, the media and other so-called power brokers. Queen Beth rarely discloses which hat she is wearing when. Does that enable her to circumvent lobbyists requirements and campaign filing disclosures?
What did we learn from Pransky's latest report and the private emails? Certainly more questions need answering.
Confirms our previous claims that the Go Hillsborough campaign, County staff, County Attorney Chip