Cesar Padilla finally did something right this week by announcing his retirement as executive director of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. The moonlighting Padilla had become an embarrassment in an already controversial agency. But his departure should only be the first of many changes at the PTC. Created by the 1976 Florida Legislature, the unique standalone regulator of taxis, limos and tow trucks outlived its usefulness long ago.
Padilla resigned amid a wave of disclosures by PTC chairman and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist. In addition to receiving a $107,000-a-year salary as the commission's executive director, Padilla was moonlighting as a reserve Hillsborough deputy sheriff, earning an additional $10,400 over the past 20 months performing private security services. Particularly concerning was that some of the security work occurred while Padilla was also supposed to be on the clock performing his PTC duties.
Much like the PTC itself, which has never had a clearly defined mission statement or rules governing its management, Padilla had no formal job description. But that didn't prevent him from writing his own glowing performance review in Crist's name earlier this year.
The PTC has long been known for cronyism and corruption. Former County Commissioner Kevin White is serving a federal prison term for bribery during his term as PTC chairman. The agency also has been accused of playing favorites in approving taxi, limo and towing licenses to the detriment of consumers.
Two Tampa Bay legislators — Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa and Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg — say they anticipate filing legislation during the 2014 session in response to what has happened. They should move to abolish the PTC. Until that can be done, the agency's board should reach outside the commission to choose an interim executive director. The agency needs a pair of fresh eyes to oversee its work and Crist needs a partner in reform, not another moonlighting hustler.