Mayor Teresa Jacobs talks to WFTV about messages received during vote for paid sick time ordinance



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV's Kathi Belich got a chance to talk with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs about the text messages she reportedly received from lobbyists at the same time she was voting on the controversial paid sick time ordinance.

Commissioners voted down that controversial proposal, which would have forced private business to pay employees sick time.

The Chamber of Commerce opposes the paid sick time measure. The president of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, Jacobs' longtime friend, texted her that the supporters had their numbers wrong and were confused and texted Jacobs "not you," "keep smiling."

The County Commission meeting on Sept. 11 went on for hours as the community and the commission hashed out the issues concerning an effort to require many employers in Orange County to pay workers for sick time.

Jacobs sent and received texts during that meeting on her personal cellphone, but some of the texts were about the paid sick time petition.

The mayor deleted them from her phone, but when requests were made for them as public records, the texts were not readily available.

On Thursday, she talked to WFTV about it.

"It didn't occur to me to be an issue at all, and suddenly it became a huge issue," said Jacobs.

The mayor said she didn't realize her new phone carrier did not provide easy access to deleted text messages, so she had the county's computer experts work on it. They were able to retrieve them from her phone, and she said she's thrilled and relieved.

"This was for me honestly one of the most distressing times that I've gone through because I would never intentionally hide something from the public. It's just not who I am," said Jacobs.

The board eventually voted 4-3 to delay the measure from going to the voters.

But a key court decision on the issue came down during that Sept. 11 meeting, and Jacobs reacted to that in her text messages.