One of the lawyers
working with ridesharing company Uber is sending warnings via a letter to other
county attorneys over the way the Hillsborough County Public Transportation
Commission (PTC) handles the public records requests submitted to its office.
Andrea Flynn Mogense
sent letters to county lawyers Cindy Oster and Stephen Todd, advising the pair
to ensure that their documents and those of their clients are protected and
safe. The Uber attorney shared that the Hillsborough PTC has been unresponsive
on the requests she filed for public documents. These records included text
messages and emails exchanged among PTC members, namely, David Pogorilich, Al
Higginbotham and Frank Reddick. Some lobbyists and representatives from the
taxi and limousine industries were part of the exchanges as well.
Apart from these
concerns, Mogense also alleged that there are private text messages and emails sent
by Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the Hillsborough PTC, using his
personal computers and cellphones. The Uber attorney claimed that the director
is avoiding the release of these messages.
“We urge you to take
all appropriate steps to immediately safeguard these documents from any
tampering, deletion, or destruction — including documents housed on private
servers, devices and accounts," wrote Mogensen in her letter, according to
The letter from
Mogensen came after documents obtained via the public records requests revealed
the exchanges between Cockream and other leaders of the local taxi industry. The
information gathered from the conversations included the plan of the two
parties to collude in conducting sting operations against Uber and Lyft. This resulted
in the drivers of the ridesharing services having to pay for tickets worth $700 each.
The details of these
exchanges pushed state Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, to seek help from the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement in an effort to determine the presence of
possible impropriety. For its part, the Hillsborough PTC agreed with the
request. The parties concerned arranged to use the services of an outside
investigating firm to determine the authenticity of the claims regarding inappropriate
relationships among taxi leaders and the PTC members. Amid the investigation, Cockream
announced in November that he intends to vacate his position by the end of the
Meanwhile, state Rep.
Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, filed a bill in December to abolish the PTC. If it passes, then the state would have to repeal the 1976 special act that allowed
Hillsborough to be the only county in Florida to have an agency of that nature.
This bill, which was supported by Young, would also transfer the power to
regulate the vehicles and ridesharing services to the Hillsborough County
"Uber and Lyft was
one of the symptoms of a regulatory agency that was no longer functioning as it
should, but it certainly was not the only symptom. The public has lost all faith
and confidence in the agency,” Young said of her support of Grant’s bill, according
to the Tampa
As for the PTC, new
board chairman Al Higginbotham shared his belief that they remain relevant in
the county. He explained via the Tampa
Bay Times, “If you are unlawfully towed or have a bad experience with a
for-hire transportation service in Pinellas, Manatee or other area county, you
have no recourse except to complain to the company providing the service. But
in Hillsborough County, the PTC — created through a special act by the
Legislature — serves as a third-party agency to help consumers."