TAMPA - William "Hoe" Brown has resigned his position as Chairman of the Tampa Port Authority following revelations of filthy conditions at rental properties he owns.
Code Enforcement recently deemed that property owned by Brown was deplorable and unfit for people to live.
"First thing was the stench," said Director of Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Jake Slater. "Overwhelming. It was something I hadn't smelled in a long time. It is one of the worst things that I have ever seen in my time as code enforcement director."
In his resignation letter to Governor Rick Scott, Brown wrote "I am keenly aware of my lapse in judgment, and I feel strongly that I must focus on taking full responsibility and making amends to the best of my ability. Simply said, this is the right thing to do."
According to code enforcement officials, it would have been impossible for Brown not to know of the filthy conditions. The trailers were located less than 20 feet behind Brown's Seminole Heights office on Stanley Street.
The trailers were hauled off the property Monday just hours after Brown reportedly told the tenants to get out and handed them $1500 in cash apiece to help them relocate.
But, even with trouble brewing regarding rental conditions, ABC Action News learned Brown rented out an apartment on the same property Sunday.
"It is one of the smaller places but it is small, cramped," explained Mark Smith.
Smith said he reached an agreement with Brown to rent the less than 300 square foot space for $700 a month.
He was about to pay him another $100 Friday afternoon but Brown did not show up at his office or return calls following his resignation.
According to Smith, the first night he moved in, burglars broke into his house, ransacked it and stole a DVD player. He claims he tried voicing his concerns to Brown on Monday but was brushed off.
"Tried to talk to him because he was in the process of moving the trailers and was all like, 'I can't talk right now, I am busy.' And then that was it," Smith explained.
Smith's mother showed up at the property Friday afternoon because she was worried about her son. She learned from ABC Action News about the allegations against Brown and his resignation.
"I can't understand it," said Louisa Smith. "I really can't. How he [Brown] takes advantage of the people like this."
Smith says he wants his deposit back and plans to find a new apartment.
Brown did not return our calls for comment.
Governor Scott responded to Brown's resignation by stating, "We appreciate Mr. Brown's service to the state of Florida and for his work on the Tampa Port Authority Board of Governors. We continue to wish the very best for him and his family."
According to Slate, there is nothing code enforcement can do to Brown legally because he complied and removed the trailers.
However, officials have fielded calls regarding conditions at other properties Brown rents and say they are looking at conditions at those places.
Dear Governor Scott:
After much thought about recent events associated with my business as well as in consideration of my wife who I love dearly and this community, I have decided to resign from my appointed and publicly-held positions, including the Tampa Port Authority’s Board of Governors. I am keenly aware of my lapse in judgment, and I feel strongly that I must focus on taking full responsibility and making amends to the best of my ability.
Simply said, this is the right thing to do.
I believe I have served well and faithfully in my public capacity,
and I have been incredibly honored to do so.
William A. “Hoe” Brown
Previous report by Erik Waxler: