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Now exonerated, commissioner castigates critic

By BILL VARIAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


TAMPA -- A Hillsborough County administrator said Wednesday that he could find no evidence that Commissioner Tom Scott exerted undue influence to help a friend win a county courier contract.

Scott, who requested the report be delivered at Wednesday's commission meeting, said it cleared his office of wrongdoing.

Then he promptly blasted Commissioner Jan Platt for raising the issue outside the boardroom instead of to his face.

"No one on this board is the gatekeeper for another commissioner," Scott said. "No commissioner has the responsibility to be the police agent for another commissioner.

"When I go to bed at night, I'm going to go to sleep."

Scott prefaced his remarks by saying he wasn't being personal.

Commissioner Ronda Storms expressed no such sentiment before joining his side.

Storms unleashed a torrent of literary references, many Shakespearean, to cast Platt as a sanctimonious back-stabber. Storms said she wouldn't be supporting a proposal by Platt to create a policy governing how commissioners may raise issues with county employees.

Under the county's charter, commissioners aren't supposed to interfere with the day-to-day operations of government.

"You don't get to have the spots on your hand and say 'Out, out damned spot,' " Storms said, refering to the guilty conscience of the queen in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Platt sat quietly through most of it all and finally said the report did nothing to make her feel a new policy isn't needed.

She had initially requested the review over how STC Dispatch Courier Service won a $30,000 contract in 1999 to deliver samples for the Water Department.

The company was run by Michael Hadley, a campaign backer of Scott's who had a spotty record running other government contracts.

Assistant County Administrator Ed Hunzeker conducted the review of Scott's involvement.

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