TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Hillsborough County is paying an employee to take personal notes on county time at a government meeting. And those notes are apparently secret.
The notes center on a meeting the county held June 25th with building inspectors. The meeting was for inspectors to voice their concerns. On June 24th, 8 On Your Side met with Hillsborough County development services director Adam Gormly to discuss what one building inspector termed in his May resignation letter, “ridiculous workloads.”
“First of all, I want to say the workloads assigned to our staff are a function of workload demand,” Gormly said. Earlier in the day, county administrator Mike Merrill assured 8 On Your Side his staff was on the case. “I’ve asked my staff to look at it, the history, at the workload, let me know, and we’ll respond accordingly,” Merrill said.
A day later on the 25th, Gormly met with building inspectors to listen to their concerns. The county insists there is no record of what went on in that meeting. 8 On Your Side wants to know how the county going to “respond accordingly” if there is no record of what went on in that meeting.
Inspectors tell 8 On Your Side Gormly’s assistant Donna Budke took copious notes at the July 25th meeting. 8 On Your Side asked to review them. Public relations and marketing director Jennifer Rothenberg responded with an email that states, “Our understanding from staff that any notes taken during the meeting referenced in your request were indeed for personal use in remembering certain things. Therefore they do not fall within the definition of ‘public record.’”
This just raises more questions, including whether the county is paying people to take personal notes on taxpayer time. Can the county seriously address concerns of its building inspectors if there is no record of what happened in a meeting it held?
Hillsborough county chief communications administrator Liana Lopez sent 8 On Your Side an email stating, “There seems to be a misinterpretation. Ms. Budke took notes for her personal use in support of her job function. These notes do not rise to the level of a public record if the notes were for her use only in the performance of her job duties, but were not intended to be distributed or filed away as a permanent record.”