Shake-up at Hillsborough agency that regulates cab companies

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — There has been a major shake-up at the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission.

It happened after 8 On Your Side started asking tough questions about a trip taken recently by Kyle Cockream who is the executive director of the Hillsborough PTC.

Cockream traveled to the Palm Beach County Commission last week to speak on a ridesharing ordinance being considered there.

Cockream also met with county commissioners the day before the meeting and was there with a man named Lou Minardi, who is the president of Yellow Cab in Tampa. Cockream maintains he was on vacation and just happened to go to the meeting because he’s interested in the issue.

However, when he introduced himself in the public meeting before the county commission, he gave his name and title with the Hillsborough PTC and never said he was there as a private citizen.

“I was not there advocating for or against any ordinance. I never spoke to any county commissioner or anybody else advocating for or against the ordinance they have down there,” said Cockream.

However, his remarks were directed against ridesharing companies. He held up two examples of drivers arrested in Hillsborough County for offenses and told commissioners they were driving for ridesharing companies. He told commissioners the insurance carried by Uber and Lyft drivers is an area that can have fraud.

At one point, a county commissioner seemed confused and asked Cockream if he worked for the taxi companies.

Still, Cockream maintains he did nothing wrong. “I was on my time. I was not compensated by anyone,” said Cockream.

State Senator Jeff Brandes has a different view. “I think it’s incredibly inappropriate and frankly it really calls into question his impartiality on the whole issue of taxi cab versus Uber and Lyft and I think it puts another black eye on the PTC,” said Brandes.

Brandes is the chairman of the transportation committee in the state senate and believes the Hillsborough County PTC should be abolished.

“It’s the only county in the state has a public transportation commission. Every other county deals with it at the county commission level and I frankly think that Hillsborough County should do the same,” said Brandes.

Not long after a WFLA TV interview with Cockream on Monday, the general counsel of the PTC sent an email to board members advising them that Cockream had resigned.

At 8:50 p.m. on Monday, Cockream sent an email to WFLA TV stating:

“This afternoon the General Counsel Attorney for the PTC sent an official notification to all of the PTC Board Members that I submitted a “resignation”. My retirement paperwork (not resignation) was submitted January 21, 2016 to Commissioner Crist. This is in no way related to our conversation earlier today,” said Cockream’s email.

The Hillsborough PTC will take up the issue at their meeting on Wednesday.

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