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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Breakfast-gate gets weirder



Breakfast is served.

Sen. Paula Dockery now wants Gov. Charlie Crist to delay the Wednesday signing of the rail bill she opposed now that Crist asked the state's inspector general to conduct an inquiry into Florida Department of Transportation emails that bore the headlines "pancake," "Pancakes" and "French Toast."

To Dockery, R-Lakeland, the breakast-food words are an example of "code words" that FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos and her chief, Kevin Thibault, used to potentially skirt a public-records request for agency correspondence concerning rail issues for the just-ended special lawmaking session.

Kopelousos said the email titles were sent in a moment of inspiration by Thibault who needed an "eye-catching" way to get her attention about a hum-drum rail issue. The breakfast food names stood out and, she said, enabled her to quickly distinguish the email from all others.

Dockery, a Republican governor's candidate, has promised to "clean house" at FDOTl. State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democratic governor's candidate, said Kopelousos should leave if it can be demonstrated that she attempted to break the law.

Said Dockery: "Governor Crist’s call for an investigation of the Florida Department of Transportation’s secret negotiations with CSX Railroad is most welcome. For three years, the agency has been stonewalling citizens trying to examine this back-room deal. Given the secretive code words used to hide its communications, the agency has violated the public trust. Until the investigation is completed, I would encourage the governor to delay signing – or better yet, veto – the legislation we’ve now learned was authored by CSX.”

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:10pm]


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