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Great Progress on Ethics Reform


This morning, the Palm Beach County Commission gave preliminary approval to the ordinances that will create the Commission on Ethics and the Inspector General. The final vote is scheduled for 12/15.

Over the last month, the ordinances had been revised somewhat, taking the County Commission out of the loop on hiring and re-appointing the Inspector General, but they were still able to fire the IG with a 5 of 7 vote.

After a concerted effort by members of the South Florida 9-12 Project,  South Florida Tea Party, and other groups, a specific proposal was created to  change key parts of the documents, and requiring the Commission on Ethics to concur with the BCC in order to remove the Inspector General.  The proposal also involves some changes to the basic funding approach that extends the 0.25% fee on contracts to all agencies in the IG’s future jurisdiction.

Commissioners Marcus, Vanna, Taylor, and Santamaria were apprised of the proposal prior to the meeting, and a very clear motion to include these items was made by Commissioner Marcus that was adopted by a 7-0 vote.

Much of the credit is given to Dennis Lipp, Vice Mayor of Loxahatchee Grove and a member of South Florida 9-12, who spent many hours working with the County Attorney and staff and visiting the commissioners.

A factor in the outcome must surely be the almost 3000 petition signatures that were collected from all sources, enough people to fill the commission hearing room 20 times over.  Thank you to all who signed their name for restoring trust in government.

Many from our ad-hoc coalition spoke at the meeting, including Dennis Lipp, Fred and Iris Scheibl, Meg Shannon, Shannon Armstrong, Victoria Thiel, Terry Philpot, Ed Fulop,  Jason Shields, Teresa Harrington, Dean Taffel, and David Wood.

Comments

5 Responses to “Great Progress on Ethics Reform”
  1. Thanks for the links I had trouble with the Koons link might have removed it. I was surprized he used such a strong statement wether it was misinterpreted or not like he said. Kudos to Jason for calling him out.

    Thanks for the info Iris and Fred

  2. EARLY ARLEN EARLY ARLEN says:

    It looks to me the way it was worded that if the IG wants to , he can just send the CORRUPT to Ethics School.$250,000 fine &5 yrs isn’t bad, except most of this stuff amounts to millions. They responded that the CORRUPT could face Federal charges as well. That’s a Pipe Dream. I talked about and the Post wrote articles on Mary Mc Carty 10 years ago. This will amount to nothing more than a” slap on the wrist” law.

    • Fred Scheibl Fred Scheibl says:

      Several points – 1. the county attorney has established that under state law, the county jurisdiction does not allow for a penalty greater than the level of a second degree misdemeanor ($500 / 60 days). Serious indiscretions will still require prosecution by the State Attorney or others. 2. The IG and the Ethics Commission will serve as active watchdogs – not over just the BCC, but county staff and vendors as well – all contracts are in their purview. Later, the other parts of the county government – Solid Waste Authority, School Board, Sheriff, will also fall under its gaze.
      The new ordinances will be similar to an approach that has been very effective in Miami-Dade and should apply appropriate sunshine to what has been done in back rooms far from public scrutiny

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