SFL912ers turn out for IG Drafting Committee Mtg

The following is copied from the Yes on Ethics¬†website post entitled “Grassroots react negatively to Drafting Committee’s attempt to rewrite the Inspector General Ordinance

Thanks so much to all who took the time to turn out Wednesday afternoon, February 9th, at the Vista Center. About 20 people from South Florida 912 and South Florida Tea Party attended the meeting with a sizeable group of other members of the public. There were also a few representatives from the cities.

Speaking generally in opposition to the large-scale rewrite proposed by League of Cities attorney Trela White, and generally in favor of the minor changes proposed by Inspector General Sheryl Steckler were June Perrin, Fred Scheibl, Iris Scheibl, Newbolt Wilson, Mike Lamayer, Jason Shields, Victoria Thiel, Bob Newmark for the Voter’s Coalition, Nat Roberts for the Economic Council and Suzanne Squire.

It’s possible that others would have spoken, but due to a change in the agenda, public comment was placed at the beginning of the meeting – an action which precluded any public comment regarding the day’s discussion. Several folks arrived later, assuming they would be able to speak at the end of the meeting. Representatives of the cities did not speak during public comment, but did submit questions specific to the IG Funding discussion later in the meeting.

The committee appeared unresponsive during the comments, did not thank the public, and went right into their discussion. They also did not acknowledge the emails sent by the public, many of which were also sent to us at support@ethicspbc.com. It should be noted that this committee has met three times before, with the mission to modify the existing ordinances so as to include the 38 municipalities in jurisdiction. Because of the attempt to rewrite rather than modify the ordinances, very little has been accomplished by this group to date, and it appeared that public scrutiny of their process was an irritant to some of the members.

Two significantly different ordinance drafts were submitted – one by Inspector General Steckler and one by League of Cities counsel White. The first discussion was about which draft to discuss. The ‘Steckler’ draft was fairly close to the original ordinance and is the one we would like approved. The ‘White’ draft is entirely rearranged, with phrases separated into different sections, purportedly for clarity and clarification. Unfortunately, it makes it next to impossible to compare with the original, and changes in spirit are evident throughout. There are many issues we have with the ‘White’ draft – however discussion didn’t get far enough to address those yet. Samples of both drafts can be found HERE.¬† Ms. Steckler’s draft was selected for discussion, and the wording of “Sec. 2-422. Office created and established” was finally approved as written. An Applicability section will be written for the next meeting and added prior to this section. The funding subcommittee had three meetings and devised a funding methodology that was agreed to by members John Wilson, Joe Doucette, Mo Thornton and Iris Scheibl. After some discussion with the committee, as well as comments and responses to the city representatives who spoke, the committee agreed to the methodology and requested that the funding section of the ordinance be drafted by Assistant County Attorney Lenny Berger.

Debate has not even commenced to functions, authority, powers – nor many other major areas that will have heated discussion. The next meeting will be on Febuary 24th at 1pm and the committee will focus entirely on the Inspector General Ordinance with the intent of making faster progress by dedicating a longer period of time for the meeting. It is difficult to see how the committee will meet its specified goal of March 30th with so few meetings and so little progress to-date.

Vigilance will be required and we ask that as many people who can continue to stay focused on the progress of both the IG and Ethics Ordinances. Much of the effort expended over the last two years to insure independence of the Inspector General could be wasted if this committee is allowed to greatly change the substance and spirit of the ordinance.

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