WTSP by Noah Pransky
July 18, 2018
As tolling problems mounted, FDOT executives debated how much to reveal publicly. Their decision: very little.
TAMPA BAY, Fla. – Internal Florida Department of Transportation emails from mid-June – when a SunPass system overhaul started to meltdown – reveal private discussions between executives and consultants about public messaging.
The emails also unveil FDOT’s behind-the-scenes decisions to downplay the problems to Floridians.
The emails, originally requested by 10Investigates a month ago, were only provided this week. They detail FDOT conversations about how to respond to questions from media outlets, including 10News, and how quickly those questions should be answered.
The agency has spent the last month distributing information almost exclusively through optimistic press releases; the majority of 10Investigates’ information, interview and record requests have gone unfulfilled. However, the requests haven’t gone unnoticed.
“The only comment I have is that we still don’t say when we will begin posting; I’m not sure we know ourselves,” consultant Leigh Anne Yarbrough wrote to FDOT executives on June 18, suggesting an opportunity to be more transparent with the public.