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Clerk not at work almost six months

TAMPA, Fla. -- She is a political icon in the area and throughout the state, but some are questioning whether some missteps in the Hillsborough Clerk's Office and health problems 82-year Clerk of Court Pat Frank is experiencing means the office isn't running as efficiently as it should.

In June, Frank admitted  there were some failures in the system as she talked about the failed $3.5 million computer system she dumped after two years. However, there have been other failures in the office since then and critics point to Frank, who basically hasn't been in the office since heart surgery in October.

Frank told me today in a phone interview, "I'm not totally back yet. I'm operating out of the house."

Frank, who has had a storied political career as a school board member, state representative, state senator, Hillsborough commissioner, and now clerk of court, tried to come back to work following surgery, but fell and broke two bones.

Frank says ,"Remember that I have a full home office and I'm capable of running everything out of my home."

But emails from Hillsborough judges, including Catherine Catlin and Samantha Ward, dating back to September and as late as December blast Frank's office for failure to get files to them.

One complaint states,"I started the actual trials without files from the clerk's office and they had been ordered weeks before. This is so unacceptable someone owes me an explanation as to how and why this happened."

We asked Frank if it has caused any problems in her mind to be out off the office and she said, "[I'm] just missing the people." 

While some of the problems occurred before Frank's heart surgery, sources say she was having problems staying awake at meetings, which is something Frank doesn't deny.

According to Frank, "I think it is fair to say I was very fatigued."

But some might think even if Frank could run the office, some of her managers could step in, as she has 16 of them making more than $100,000 a year. However, Frank says the salaries are not unreasonable. She says, "I'm not just clerk of the court. I'm also comptroller for the county and that's an awesome task that has its own many duties to perform."

Despite the fact Pat Frank hasn't been physically at the  clerk of court's office going on almost six months, she discounts the problems that have occurred in that time and says the office is running smoothly. Franks says, "So it's not dropping of my duties by a long shot and I'm continuing my services even though I'm at home."

But with an office that endured a ticket fixing scandal, a multi- million dollar computer debacle, and now problems with getting files to judges, those duties aren't going as smoothly as Pat Frank would want them to.

While Frank has physical problems, she sounded sharp as ever on the phone. That is in stark contrast to Clerk of Court James F. Taylor, who was forced to resign from office in the mid '80's  after it was learned he had dementia and his wife brought him to the office each day and put him on his couch where he napped all day.

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