The Hillsborough County Transportation Commission held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the future of its executive director, following emails that raised questions about his integrity.
- Hillsborough PTC discussed director's future Tuesday
- Executive Director Kyle Cockream was accused of trying to catch illegal rideshare operators
- The commission voted to have a third-party review the case
The 12,000 emails released showed Executive Director Kyle Cockream using cab and limo companies to help nab Uber and Lyft drivers operating illegally within the county.
Many called the emails a conflict of interest, including Victor Crist, the commission’s chairman.
“The bottom line is, we need to have this investigated," said Crist. "It needs to be an objective third party."
Several representatives from cab companies talked at the meeting, saying if anyone is operating illegally, it should be reported. They believe they are helping PTC follow the rules, not conspiring against ridesharing companies.
But Crist advised all members to read all of the emails, saying there are several of them that bring to question Cockream’s ethics.
Crist and a county attorney told the board there is also an option to have Cockream resign, or even to terminate him as the executive director.
But the majority of board members strongly disagreed.
“What I see is trying to build a case for a coup against this gentleman, and I’m not going to go along with it,” Councilman Frank Reddick said. “This is a sham what is taking place this morning.”
Crist called a vote to authorize the investigation while placing Cockream on paid administrative leave. The vote failed 3-2.
Cockream also spoke at the meeting, saying he welcomes an investigation.
The board finally voted on choosing an outside firm during the next meeting that will eventually conduct the internal investigation. However, it’s unclear if Cockream will be placed on paid administrative leave. Several board members expressed they don’t believe he should be off the job.
The investigation itself could cost upwards of $20,000 and last three to four months, according to one county attorney.
In addition, if the board decides to place Cockream on leave, the county will have to pay an interim executive director in his absence.