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Traffic jam at the expressway authority

State Attorney halts questionable ascent of former Rep. Steve Precourt

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JUST THE STATS

 

$185,000

SUGGESTED SALARY – PLUS $300 MONTHLY CAR ALLOWANCE, AMONG SIGNIFICANT OTHER BENEFITS – FOR FORMER STATE REP. STEVE PRECOURT, R-ORLANDO, SHOULD HE TAKE OVER THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR POSITION AT THE ORLANDO-ORANGE COUNTY EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY AS WAS, UNTIL RECENTLY, EXPECTED. FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MAX CRUMIT WAS PAID $225,000

 

$29,000

PRECOURT’S ANNUAL SALARY AS A STATE REPRESENTATIVE UNTIL HE RESIGNED THE POSITION ON JAN. 9, AHEAD OF BEING TERM-LIMITED IN NOVEMBER 2014.

 

$300 MILLION

AMOUNT COLLECTED IN TOLLS BY THE TROUBLED EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY LAST YEAR

 

“WHAT I PERCEIVE AS A LACK OF A CANDOR AND QUESTIONABLE LAPSES IN MEMORY WHICH WE EXPERIENCED IN RECENT INTERVIEWS OF WITNESSES ONLY REINFORCES MY SUSPICIONS. WHILE THE INVESTIGATION IS NOT COMPLETE AND I WILL NOT PREJUDGE ITS FINAL CONCLUSION, I HAVE SEEN AND HEARD ENOUGH TO COUNSEL CAUTION IN MAKING ANY CHANGES IN THE LEADERSHIP OF AN ORGANIZATION AS IMPORTANT TO THIS COMMUNITY AS THE ORLANDO-ORANGE COUNTY EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY.”
– STATE ATTORNEY JEFF ASHTON IN A
JAN. 17 LETTER
SOURCES: Orlando Sentinel, Jeff Ashton’s office

END OF THE ROAD?

Just as last week came to its chilly close amid the acrid surges of political inevitability, a sort of stop-stick was tossed out onto the temporal freeway, forcing at least one fast-tracking, smooth-talking career politician into the median of uncertainty. State Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando – he of last year’s home-rule pre-emption parade – had to tone down his camera-ready smile for a minute and realize that maybe the decision to resign on Jan. 9 and hop to the front of the Expressway Authority bus was a bit premature. Sure, those with their good money on good things might have advised him that his new position wasn’t exactly a done deal, regardless of what his majority of cronies presently sitting on the board had drafted. After all, those cronies have been under investigation by State Attorney Jeff Ashton’s office since September. Look before you leap?

But even that tangled web of inquiry, which currently stretches all the way up to the Florida Department of Transportation – a web that, by nature, includes a “lack of candor and questionable lapses in memory,” according to Ashton – doesn’t tell the full story of Precourt’s precious gamble. Amid all (un)due fanfare, Precourt and his fellow Republicans praised their new ethical complexion last year when they passed Senate Bill 2, a 64-page omnibus that would effectively preclude opportunists like Precourt from accepting what amounts to a lobbying position (like the one he is trying to accept right now) for at least two years. Hell, even ethically challenged Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who likewise sits on the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, understood that when she tried to vote (in the minority) against his employment at the agency earlier this month.

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