After a string of traffic citations and car crashes during a two year period, immediate past PSTA chair and former Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard found herself without a driver’s license in 2019. A public records request shows that a few months after her final car crash, PSTA staff moved a bus stop to be closer to Pat Gerard’s home, apparently so that she would have an easier time getting to her place of work as a county commissioner. The move of the bus stop was initiated and completed while Gerard was a PSTA board member, and was not publicly disclosed.
“A lady hit me head on driving north in the southbound lane of Seminole Blvd yesterday.,” the May 20, 2019 Facebook post said. “The red car is what was left of her Hyundai,” St. Petersburg chiropractor Albert “Butch” Andrion said in this post on his personal Facebook page.
The lady Andrion was referring to is Pat Gerard, who was a Pinellas County Commissioner at the time. Gerard was cited for careless driving in this crash, and it was Gerard’s third careless driving citation in just two years.
Andrion has an active lawsuit against Gerard over the accident. Gerard was also sued in 2017 after another car crash in which she was cited for careless driving.
During an 11.5 year period ending with the May 2019 crash, Gerard was cited for speeding twice and careless driving five times. Gerard was also cited for careless driving in 1988.
Gerard’s court record is shown below.
(Update on 02-FEB-2023 1:20 PM – an earlier version of this article stated that Gerard had been cited for “reckless” driving. That was incorrect, as the above record shows, it was for careless driving.)
The Guardian made a public records request to PSTA for all records showing additions or deletion of bus stops on a short segment of Indian Rocks Road in Largo near Gerard’s house for a period around the time her driver’s license ceased to be valid. PSTA responded that they had no such records. That turned out not to be true.
The records we finally received this afternoon were quite revealing, especially when taken in context of Gerard’s dreadful driver’s license record. Her dangerous driving has caused her to be sued multiple times. Her behavior was in fact reckless, not merely careless, as seen by by Andrion’s description of the crash in this Facebook comment.
Gerard’s reckless behavior ultimately forced her to stop driving and use PSTA route 65 to get to work, a decision she could have made much earlier in light of her driving record. Route 65 goes straight to the county commission’s office. As shown below, PSTA appears to have corruptly moved a bus stop closer to Gerard’s home to make her walk to the bus stop shorter.
According to the PSTA public records we received, PSTA’s director of project management Abhishek Dayal claims that on Veterans Day 2019 “a passenger asked me if a NB [northbound] stop could be added across the street from [stop] UID#8307. She said that the NB stops are too far apart in that stretch.”
In this report, Dayal did not give the name of this female passenger or her phone number. Virtually every other request contains that information so that staff can follow up with the requestor. The same day, Veterans Day, PSTA staffer Tiara Holmes logged or initiated (it is unclear at this stage) a “request for a stop to be put on both sides of the road.”
PSTA’s project status log for this item is shown below.
PSTA claims that they were simply “verifying” stops along the road and “considering” additional stops. PSTA further claims that the stop in question was “incorrectly installed” on the wrong side of the road before moving it closer to Gerard’s house.
Florida’s ethics law prohibits public officers like Gerard from corruptly seeking and public employees like those at PSTA from providing “a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others.” Even an attempting to do so is classed as “misuse of public position” and punishable.
We emailed PSTA CEO Brad Miller asking him: “was this bus stop improperly moved for the benefit or at the behest of then PSTA board member Pat Gerard?” Miller responded in relevant part:
Miller’s statement that Gerard never asked him to relocate a bus stop is not responsive to the question of whether Gerard directly or through a decoy asked that the stop be moved closer to her house. Miller’s statement is also not the categorical denial of impropriety by PSTA that we asked him twice to provide.
“We review all requests in the same manner through discussions with our amenities team comprising of staff from planning, maintenance, operations and safety departments,” said Abishek Dayal, commenting on this matter. “We routinely get requests from riders, developers, business owners, other agencies as well as Board members that we review in the same manner.”
Dayal’s very general answer at the behest of Miller did not address the specifics of the Pat Gerard bus stop case. Given Dayal’s direct involvement by reporting a request from a “passenger” without taking their name and number for follow-up, we emailed Dayal the following rather obvious questions:
We had not received an answer from Dayal by the time of publication of this article. We will publish any answers he provides us with in our next article on what looks like a brewing scandal.
Important update 2/5/2023 10:50 PM – two days after the publication of the above, we were able to use PSTA’s own records to prove that the “passenger” Dayal claimed asked him to add a stop was in fact Pat Gerard. See that article here.
As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide. Please like our Facebook page to find out when we publish new stories.
(below: PSTA CEO Brad Miller in a picture from his Twitter feed)