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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

E-mail brouhaha will come to a head sooner rather than later



TAMPA -- Things are about to get more tense at County Center.

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan has pushed up a scheduled discussion of the e-mail snooping allegations swirling around the county's top three appointed officials. He wants the issue tacked onto the end of a transportation workshop scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham had scheduled the topic for discussion on March 17, the board's next regular meeting. Hagan clearly wants the matter resolved sooner than that.

What resolved means remains to be seen. But before he asked for the scheduling change, Hagan's office requested the county's contracts with County Administrator Pat Bean, County Attorney Renee Lee and Internal Performance Auditor Jim Barnes. The contracts include the provisions under which each may be terminated.

Bean, Lee and Barnes are the three county employees who report directly to commissioners. Last week, Barnes issued a report accusing someone in Bean's and Lee's offices of secretly going through large batches of his e-mails without notifying him. Some of the e-mails may have included information protected from disclosure, he said. Other e-mails related to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement inquiry also may have been pulled.

Bean acknowledged pulling e-mails but said she didn't read them. Lee says any e-mails her office pulled would have been in response to public records requests. Lee said Monday she is working on a formal response to Barnes' report.

Bill Varian, Times staff writer 


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:27pm]


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