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Political junkie

Temporary auditor has history with county

By Times staff writers
Published April 9, 2005

Hillsborough County's internal performance auditor, Kathleen Mathews, won permission recently to hire temporary help to conduct a review of the county's use of a state incentive program to lure high-paying employers to town.

The temp? John Dausman, a former employee of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit who has sued that agency claiming he was fired for blowing the whistle on spending irregularities there.

HARTline has maintained Dausman was fired for improperly grabbing another employee, and the agency's attorney has urged board members not to talk to him while the lawsuit is pending. Three Hillsborough commissioners serve on the HARTline board.

Before he worked with HARTline, Dausman was economic development director for the county, which Mathews said uniquely qualifies him for the task. He knows the economic incentive rules, in other words, and she needs the man power given a backup of audits on her plate.

"I consider him a subject-matter expert," Mathews said.

He doesn't have to interact with commissioners, she said, and she checked with County Attorney Renee Lee before hiring him to make sure there were no legal concerns about hiring Dausman for the job. Lee saw no problem.

Dausman is making $30 an hour. No benefits.

GRECO'S GHOST?: Whe n Julie Sternfels quit her job as Tampa's naturalist in 2003, she said a pro-developer bias started under Mayo r Dick Greco persisted unde r Pam Iorio, who became mayor earlier that year and had a more eco-friendly rep than her predecessor. Could it be that for many of the city's employees who review development projects, Greco never left?

Could be. In an April 8 memo about a proposed subdivision project in northeast Hillsborough County, the letterhead still listed Greco as mayor - more than two years into Iorio's term.

STORM CHILLS: Hillsborough Commissioner Ronda Storms wanted to disagree wit h Ron Hytoff, president of Tampa General Hospital, on whether Tampa's major charity hospitals deserved a vote on a committee studying the county's health care program. But first, a preface to the discussion that took place during Wednesday's commission meeting.

"I've said this to you before," Storms told Hytoff. "You saved my life.

"Last time we were in a fracas with Tampa General and you and I were on the phone, and I was driving through Alligator Alley, you harassed me into putting my seat belt on," she said. "That night my husband and I rolled our Explorer. We would have died if it wasn't for you."

Hytoff nodded, smiling. "She called me on a Saturday, and I had unbelievable chills about this story. It's just an unbelievable story."

"We get that from Commissioner Storms every week," said Commissioner Jim Norman jokingly.

Staff writers Bill Varian, Michael Van Sickler and Bill Coats contributed to this report.

[Last modified April 9, 2005, 07:10:29]

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