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Hillsborough commissioner sends late-night e-mail blasting county office

TAMPA — The economy's in the tank. Employers — even governments — are laying off people by the hundreds.

And then you learn your boss has sent out a late-night e-mail describing your office's work in excremental terms.

That's exactly what happened a few weeks ago. The author: Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

The focus of his ire: efforts by County Attorney Renee Lee's office to resolve issues involving Hagan's pet project, the Carrollwood Cultural Center.

"Jump on this first thing," Hagan wrote to his aide, Rich Reidy. "The ccc should not be penalized for the sh---- work of the county attys office … see what you can do, and do what you have to."

The time: 1:15 a.m., Friday, June 13.

Reidy did jump on it first thing, sending a 7:20 a.m. e-mail to Lee's chief deputy, sharing Hagan's original message and noting the "time and tone."

The county has contracted with a nonprofit group to run the cultural center, which the county built and opened in February. The nonprofit wants to be able to sell alcohol there for special occasions, like weddings, to help offset costs.

That requires an ordinance change. County Administrator Pat Bean had told Hagan the day before that an absence in Lee's office had delayed when the item could appear before the board for approval. It had been scheduled for June but has been pushed back a month.

As a commissioner, Hagan is one of Lee's seven bosses. He is, in fact, chairman of the board.

Hagan was not available Wednesday to comment on the e-mail, obtained through a public records request. But he relayed a response through Reidy.

"Obviously he was frustrated, not only at the hour, but at the apparent lack of urgency demonstrated by the county attorney's office when earlier he had been advised it was going to be on a June agenda," Reidy said. "And we only found out about the delay through the constituents."

Lee said her office is not to blame. The ordinance in question is going through several changes, which several departments have to review.

And she said she doesn't believe Hagan's e-mail represents a broader assessment of her office's work.

"I think if it was, I'd hear it from the board or from him," Lee said. "The commissioner's not shy about sharing his feelings."

Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

Hillsborough commissioner sends late-night e-mail blasting county office 06/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 5:56pm]
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