Texts show lawyer advised Jacobs on sick time

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Sep 28, 2012 Comments Off on Texts show lawyer advised Jacobs on sick time Wes Hodge

Orange Mayor Teresa Jacobs is shown earlier at a meeting over the sick-time initiative when residents brought flowers to the meeting. She says she will try to retrieve messages deleted from her phone in connection with the issue. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs on Thursday released previously deleted cellphone texts that show she received advice and coaching from a longtime political ally on the day commissioners voted to delay a sick-time initiative from the ballot.

Much of the debate in the Sept. 11 hearing centered on whether the ballot measure’s wording was misleading, and if commissioners had the power or duty to delay a vote and revise it. Commissioners voted 4-3 to study the initiative, which effectively kept it off the ballot, though Jacobs voted against the delay.

During the debate, BakerHostetler attorney Kevin Shaughnessy texted Jacobs to suggest she ask sick-time proponents if they wanted to use the wording listed on its more than 50,000 signed petition forms, or use revised language that they had submitted that day.

A short time later, he texted Jacobs: “Then take a break stating you want the County Attorney to review the NEW language and you and your colleagues want to study it too and you need to determine what we can and cannot do with the new language.”

In all, there are 14 previously deleted texts that Jacobs turned over Thursday that involve Shaughnessy, who like the mayor also opposes the ballot measure and is a partner at BakerHostetler. Other deleted texts that were recovered mostly involved staff.

At one point during the long and sometimes confusing six-hour debate, Jacobs texted Shaughnessy, “This is so bizarre. Pls help me with a written explanation of my position. This is most distressful to me”

Jacobs said the texts show she received advice from Shaughnessy, and he was not lobbying her one way or the other on the issue.

“He gave me advice. If he’s a lobbyist, he did a pretty lousy job,” she said, noting she didn’t heed it in some cases.

Shaughnessy said he often provides advice to the mayor and assumes she leaned on him in this case due to his experience handling charter ballot issues. Shaughnessy said he didn’t take sides in the texts, though he had told the mayor previously that he regarded the ballot measure’s language as “not valid.”

“I wasn’t telling her to take a position one way or the other,” Shaughnessy said. “I was not giving her advice to keep this from voters.”

Click here for the Orlando Sentinel article.

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