EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY FIRES LOBBYIST by Roxanne Escobales

01/08/07

The transportation agency responsible for toll roads in Hillsborough County has come under fire this past year for ethical lapses and rampant spending. Today, it took a two small steps toward regaining public trust. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports.

  

The board of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority unanimously voted to adopt all 13 recommendations outlined in a state Auditor General’s report issued at the end of last month. That included getting rid of the agency’s lobbyist in Tallahassee, John Beck.

 

In its report, the auditor general told the expressway authority that it legally does not have the power to contract lobbying services.

 

The board chose state senator James Hargrett at the beginning of the meeting to head the board. He said the decision heralded a new direction for the expressway authority. Hargrett asked the board’s two elected officials – Tampa City Council member Gwen Miller and County Commissioner Kevin White – for a special favor.

 

ACT:

 

The board also confirmed that Stephen Reich would take over as interim executive director. The former executive director, Ralph Mervine, resigned amid revelations he owned a gay porn business in California.

 

Reich is contracted out from the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida. He assume lobbying responsibilities, along with authority board chair, state Senator Hargrett.

 

Roxanne Escobales. WMNF News. Downtown Tampa.

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