DOT Secretary says pancakes got her attentionby Dara Kam | December 14th, 2009
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos said that the word “pancake” in the subject line of an e-mail from her deputy Kevin Thibault was just a way for the message to stand out from the hundreds she receives daily.
The code words were not a way to circumvent public records laws, Kopelousos insisted.
“I get hundreds of e-mails in a day and Kevin was trying to get me to look at something,” Kopelousos said. “There was nothing more, nothing less than just that. He wanted to get my attention so I would read the email he was forwarding.”
Kopelousos said her department e-mail searches include not only the subject line but the attachments as well.
The e-mails were obtained by Sen. Paula Dockery, an ardent opponent of a deal between the state and CSX Inc. in which Kopelousos has agreed to pay the freight operator at least $432 million for 61 miles of track near Orlando for a Central Florida commuter line called “SunRail.”
Dockery’s public records request of the agency included the search terms “rail,” “CSX” and “liability.”
Dockery made her request before the special session started and she submitted another one last week for the messages exchanged during the session.
She amended the search terms this time.
“Additionally, please provide me with an electronic copy of all messages containing breakfast food related words, including but not limited to: pancake, french toast, bacon, egg, cereal, waffle, grits, and sausage, sent to or from the state or personal email addresses or electronic devices of yourself, Kevin Thibault and Alexis Yarbrough beginning on March 1, 2009,” Dockery, R-Lakeland, requested.
Kopelousos and Thibault exchanged three e-mails over two days with the breakfast items as the subjects.
The messages weren’t about breakfast. The rail mails had attachments dealing with the rail proposal lawmakers approved last week, prompting Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink to demand that Kopelousos and Thibault resign.