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Uncertain future for Hillsborough's PTC

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There are questions about the future of Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission. The agency's embattled director, Cesar Padilla, turned in his resignation last week, and now board chairman Victor Crist, is calling for an overhaul at the PTC.

"I think there's a need for greater transparency, better checks and balances, and managerial safe guards to prevent any abuses like what have happened in the past," Crist said.

There have been problems at the PTC for years. Former chairman Kevin White was convicted on federal charges for taking bribes during his tenure. And just last week, a group called the Institute for Justice brought a lawsuit against the PTC, claiming it is unconstitutional for the agency to require limousine drivers to charge a minimum of $50 per trip.

Crist said it's necessary for an interim director to be chosen immediately.

"We would look for someone that, number one, has a reputation of honesty and integrity, that has a proven skill set, especially in consumer protection," he said.

Crist is also calling for an audit of the entire agency.

But critics say changes may be too little, too late.

"If the only issue with the PTC was integrity at leadership level, or if it was just about ethics problems, you could put somebody with integrity in that role and the problems would go away," said State Rep. James Grant, a Tampa Republican.

Grant is calling for the Florida legislature to take a look at the PTC's function, to see whether legislation is necessary to abolish the organization.

The PTC is supposed to protect consumers, and make sure they're getting a safe ride in taxis or limos, but Grant said it's hurting consumers and business innovation.

"There's a fundamental question to be answered," he said. "Why does Hillsborough county need one of a kind agency that continues to thwart innovation?"

The PTC board is set to address the issue of an interim director at its next meeting on September 11th.

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