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County Commission Final Vote on Ethics Ordinance – 7 for/0 against


Update!!!!!!!!!!  History was made this morning when the Board of County Commissioners voted for the IG, Ethics Commission and Ethics ordinances as amended (below).  There were a few wrinkles when Commissioner Santamaria had an issue with the firing wording, Commissioner Aaronson had issues with treating non-profits/charities like everyone else and Commissioner Taylor had an issue with the IG’s ability to investigate – even without ’cause’.  So what we thought was going to be a quick vote ended up taking about 2 hours!  Several members of the South Florida 912 Project were present and the following members spoke in support of the ordinances:  Dennis Lipp, Shannon Armstrong, Jason Shields, Iris Scheibl, Fred Scheibl, Michele Kirk.    Despite all of the discussion – it was agreed that this was an historic day for Palm Beach County and that the ordinances should be approved.

Thanks to everyone for taking a stand and playing a part in making this happen.  They know we’re watching them now.  And key for us is that this is just the first step.  WE MUST KEEP ON WATCHING THEM!

Here are links to coverage in the Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel.

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Come out and see history being made.   The Palm Beach County Commission is expected to vote on the amended Ethics Ordinances which provide for a truly independent Inspector General during the 12/15/09 public meeting.   Thanks to work by 9-12 Project Members and others, the Commission has accepted  changes that simplify budgeting and require the concurrance of the Ethics Commission to remove an Inspector General. 

Here are the 12/15 versions of the ordinances that will be voted on, including summaries of the changes:

Inspector General

The following will be read into the record on Tuesday 12/15 in order to resolve an issue with independence in IG funding:

As we discussed, the attachment to the IG Ordinance agenda item shows the revisions responsive to the BCC’s direction at the 12/1 meeting.  There have been suggested changes since that time which Lenny will read into the record for BCC consideration.  The change that you called about is on Lenny’s “read” list.  Staff proposes to revise Section 2. B. (4), which can be found on page 3 of the IG Ordinance starting at line 27, as follows (emphasis added):

 

(4)  The costs of reviews, audits, inspections and investigations by the Inspector General shall be defrayed in part by imposition of a fee which shall be equal to one quarter of  one percent (0.25%) of the contract price, as may be adjusted as necessary (hereinafter “IG contract fee”)….”

Code of Ethics

Ethics Commission

Comments

5 Responses to “County Commission Final Vote on Ethics Ordinance – 7 for/0 against”
  1. I am very excited to hear that the verbage that was presented by our group and voted on last week , is in the rewrite and that includes the funding! Great Great News. The thing that upsets me is that I cannot be at the meeting next week. I have a meeting with Upper Level Managment for my company that I have to attend. My heart is broken as we have been working on this for months and would love to be there! I will be with all of you in spirit! Thank you for all who helped and participated and spoke, wrote letters, and signed petitions. Thank You! This is a great start. The South Florida 912 has something to truly be proud off. I encourage all who can come to participate in Tuesday. The Inspector General being approved is a big deal for our county! It is a big deal for all the citizens. We can set an example and I hope, see this enacted across the state.

    If you can come next Tueday please RSVP and show your 912 spirit!

    thanks,

    Shannon

    • Danger Danger Will Rogers…
      Fatal Flaw or Not?

      Commission on Ethic’s
      Page 13 (Line 28 – end)
      Page 14 (Line 1-3)

      Still states a 2yr statue of Limitations
      “Unless a person, by fraud or other device,
      prevents discovery of the violation.

      A forensic Audit could take up to 7 years
      Far beyond the 2 yr limit of discovery.

      Good luck proving fraud or concealment, no?

      Iris and Dennis, Was this discussed w/county Lawyer
      (as suggested at the Sunday Meeting)?

      If not, why not. Isn’t this Vital to prosecution?

      Thanks,

      Suzanne

      • Iris Iris says:

        Suzanne – this was not one of the topics we discussed at our meeting with the County Attorney. Our primary objective was Independence as defined by hiring/firing/budget and as agreed to at the BCC mtg. I agree that you brought it up at the weekend meeting; other suggestions over the last couple of weeks were term limits, ‘regular’ people on the ethics commission, concerns about the ability of the various groups to pick their ethics commission participant in time, etc. The ordinances will be working documents and will be tweaked in time. And the charter amendment will be worked on all through the 1st half of the year.

        That said, in a quick search and my (very non-legal and probably faulty) opinion only – the Miami ordinance has almost the identical wording with a statute of limitations of 3 yrs in order to file the complaint, and 18 months in which to investigate and dispose of. The PBC has a 2 yr statute with 12 months to investigate and dispose of . They are not prosecutorial/legal bodies – dispose of may be to other bodies (eg prosecutors, courts, fbi for action. They’re not doing 7 year forensic audits. They’re an unpaid body of over-seers – hoping to take action relatively quickly. They’re also not the initiators of ‘filing’ the complaint – some one is bringing the complaint to them – so that’s the part that has to be done within 2 yrs.

        If you’d like to pose a specific scenario to the County Attorney and ask how she sees the course of that scenario flowing – the office is very responsive.

        Iris

        • EdFulop EdFulop says:

          “Courtesy of Your friendly neighborhood 9.12 Project”

          reprinted from Sun-Sentinel

          Ethics reforms tweaked again, vote coming Tuesday

          > Posted by Andy Reid on December 10, 2009 04:54 PM
          With a final vote on new ethics reforms coming Tuesday, Palm Beach County government lawyers have tweaked the rules to try to give more independence to a new proposed county watchdog.

          County commissioners on Dec. 1 gave preliminary approval to a new ethics code as well as the creation of an Ethics Commission and the hiring of an inspector general, charged with ferreting out waste and corruption.

          The changes added to the new rules would give the Ethics Commission veto power over any County Commission attempt to remove the inspector general. It also gives the Ethics Commission more of a role in deciding whether to initiate removing the inspector general, instead of just leaving it up to the County Commission.

          The push for reforms comes in the wake of three county commissioners in three years resigning and going to prison after getting swept up in a federal corruption investigation.

          In addition to creating the Ethics Commission and inspector general post, the proposed reforms include: tougher lobbying regulations; more disclosure of potential conflicts of interest; more scrutiny of county land deals; punishing ethics violators with jail time – up to 60 days – in addition to fines; more ethics training for government employees and officials; and new limits on gifts county employees can receive.

          The tweaks to the proposed rules come after critics for months pushed the county to give more independence to the inspector general, by limiting the control the County Commission has over hiring and firing the inspector general and ensuring there is a dedicated funding source for the new office.

          If the County Commission gives final approval to the new rules Tuesday, the county plans to ask voters in the November 2010 election to change the county’s charter to expand the inspector general’s oversight powers to include cities and other local branches of government.

          Before then, the county and civic groups plan to push cities, the school district and other branches of local government to voluntarily put themselves under the oversight umbrella of the inspector general and new ethics code.

  2. Glad to say things have turned out that I can go. Looking forward to seeing those who have worked so hard on this at the final vote. Thanks to all that have worked so hard!

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