100% Independent Inspector General for Palm Beach County
These are the new changes to Inspector General Ordinance:
- The selection of the IG was to have been approved by a majority of the BCC. That language has been removed from section 2-C(2), which drops the BCC from the process.
- Section 2C(4) has been amended to require a vote of 5 of the 7 commissioners to not re-appoint the IG for a subsequent term. Originally, a majority was sufficient.
- Section 2C(5) has been amended to remove the requirement of board approval on replacement of the IG after a vacancy.
- Section 2D – Contract has been amended to require 6 months notice on intent to renew the IG contract. The BCC still must approve the IG Contract.
- Section 2H – Financial Support and Budgeting, now says “the County shall provide sufficient financial support for the Inspector General’s Office to fulfill its duties..” but still subjects the IG budget to approval by the BCC.
Section 2I – removal is unchanged – a vote of 5 of the 7 commissioners can still remove the IG “for cause”.
Here are the links to the new documents:
At the public comment session of the PBCC meeting, quite a few people came forward to speak in favor of making the Inspector General more independent. From the 9-12 project, the commissioners heard from Shannon Armstrong, Suzanne Squire, Morley Alperstein, Loxahatchee Groves Councilman Dennis Lipp, and Fred Scheibl. Commissioner Santamaria thanked us for our effort after the meeting and we discussed how we will need to ramp up the effort before the 12/1 meeting by writing and meeting with commissioners, writing letters to the editor, and lining up people to attend the meeting.
In July of 2009, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) decided to adopt the recommendations of a grand jury convened by State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, to examine county corruption and prescribe reforms. The grand jury report noted the local “Corruption County” reputation and called for an Office of Inspector General and a Commission on Ethics modeled after entities in Miami-Dade County. Work was started on the ordinances required, with a target date of December 15, 2009 for a final vote on implementation.
On Friday, October 23, the BCC were provided with the first draft of the documents. A group of concerned citizens convened to examine the documents. The first meeting was held on Monday, October 26, and the conclusion of the group was that there is not sufficient independence provided for the Inspector General to be able to function properly as a watchdog. Consequently, the team decided to move forward with some amendment proposals, and begin a project of raising the public awareness to the content of the documents.
The 10/21/09 versions of the documents themselves can be viewed here:
One of the tools of this project is a public petition, calling on the BCC to allow for sufficient independence of the Inspector General in the pending ordinance. This site provides the petition in electronic form, as well as a means to print a hardcopy if one would prefer to mail or hand deliver it to the commission. There is also a tab to assist you in contacting your county commissioners.