Ethics Night in Wellington

Last night’s May meeting of South Florida 912 began a little bit differently.  Gypsy Horse Pub set up a very nice buffet dinner for us – and many of the attendees took advantage of the dinner deal.  Later we found out that Commissioner Jess Santamaria was covering the costs of the buffet so that we could donate the proceeds to our charity.  Thank you, Jess!  And to everyone who donated so generously to the effort!

Between dinner and the meeting, Ken Barnett set up our banner – and he took a lot of effort to devise and create a projection screen integrated into the banner for us – thanks so much Ken!  We had a packed agenda.  Shannon Armstrong (co-founder) was MC for the evening.  Ed Fulop led us in the invocation and Mike Lamayer in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Our value of the month, was ” Humility” and Jason Shields movingly described the impact his illness has had on making him humble.  

Iris Scheibl asked the members to attend Tuesday’s BCC hearing on the Ethics and IG Ordinances and then introduced Al Johnson, Executive Director of Palm Beach County’s Commission on Ethics.  Al gave a very informative presentation on the background and functioning of the Commission on Ethics as well as the relationship between the Inspector General, the Commission on Ethics and the State Attorney.  Time for a break!

Ed Fulop spoke briefly about the charity and how much money we’d raised.  Commissioner Santamaria quickly reiterated how important it was for all of us to turn out next Tuesday for the ordinance vote.  Then Ed took the mic to introduce Deerfield Beach crusading blogger Chaz Stevens, who spoke about how he got involved four years ago and found his blogging niche – searching for corruption on a local level.

By then we were running a little late – Dr. Richard Rayborn (Delray 912) spoke about our next meeting which will be in the Lantana branch of the Palm Beach County Library on Tuesday, June 14th.  Fred Scheibl gave a quick Tallahassee update and mentioned the County Commission budget workshop –  on Monday,June 13th in the evening. 

Shannon also spoke about an opportunity to welcome home one of our hard-working military this Saturday at 4:15 at the PBIA terminal.  We’ll post more details as they’re available, as well as the 4th of July celebration meeting at Original Pancake House and Christ Fellowship.  Watch for details.

We hope you join us at our upcoming meetings.

Pictures from Boris and Fred


2 Responses to “Ethics Night in Wellington”
  1. Alan Gerwig says:

    I believe the South Florida 9-12 Project is very miss guided in its endeavor to encourage us to be in support of the IG and this new layer of government which has no enforcement authority while has investigative authority over every local government body. The very idea that another government body will somehow improve the behavior of the elected politician and that it has the ability to identify breaches in ethical behavior more effectively than any of the existing government departments, specifically the State Attorney’s office which is the only department that has any authority to investigate and bring charges. In the time that the County has been trying to establish rules and requirements which will be used to deem if a specific act is ethical or not has proven to be an impossible. We should all know that this is not a role that government can play. That cannot script ethical behavior by writing a set of do’s and don’ts. As it stands right now the IG will have staff walking the halls of every local government requiring the staff to divulge every detail and justify their daily activity. This is done on randomly, not due to a complaint that has been filed. It is just what the IG believes she has been hired to do. This will cost every local governmental body significantly and you and I will be paying the price. But they won’t tell you what the price is. Again, the IG will have to justify her existence and this is how it is being done.

    As a civil society we already have determined what it ethical. We all know within reason what is right and wrong. And when someone crosses that line there are already ample prosecutorial authorities in place to deal with it. We all know you cannot legislate moral behavior. The end result of a government action like this is nothing good. It costs us all more money, it creates tons of unintended consequences by disallowing harmless acts under the guise of violating a particular rule that was contrived during a workshop somewhere. Right behavior is right behavior and reasonable people will recognize the difference.

    We believe in personal responsibility and this is the only true protection we have. It is all or ours responsibility to be involved enough to now when people are out of line and to speak up. We cannot shirk this duty buy setting up a government bureaucrat to do it for us and think we have solved anything. With or without the IG there will be bad apples. We have to admit that, keep an eye out for them and deal with them with the existing laws already on the books. There is no shortage of law and penalties in existence to deal with any unlawful activities.

    You seem to believe that the IG with their proposed staff of 52 people, (their stated goal) will be able write specific rules that will protect us. Ethics is anything but specific, each situation requires the application of good judgment governed by the application of honest service to those that have entrusted them with a public office. It is no more complicated than that. There are already proposed rules that are ludicrous and will only serve to hamper honest service. I have already been subjected to these rules and seen them applied first hand. It is not good. For any individual to promote that they are above reproach and the most ethical person and the only one qualified to serve like Jess Santamaria has claimed to anyone that will listen is prosperous. Watch closely, you have probably heard the scripture “Pride comes before the fall”.

    Do not hitch your wagon to any politician or the IG. Stick to your values and principals, don’t look to government to create another layer of bureaucracy to watch it’s self. It cant be done.

    I can guarantee that two things will come from this new IG. One is that it will cost us all more than we will ever benefit, and we will never know the true cost and the other it will keep good honest people from serving in public office because they will not be willing to subject themselves to such subjective scrutiny.

    I know this because my wife is serving right now as an elected councilperson and what is coming is going to paralyze government cost the tax payers dearly, and result in further government inefficiencies that will make us all look at it from the outside and say “why can’t they get anything done”. This is not hypothetical, it is factual. They are being trained by the County as we speak on how they will have to conduct themselves and it is not what I believe you understand it to be. You need to do your home work on how they are planning on implementing this thing and then ask yourself if this is what you really think will make our government better. As always it is easy to be in favor ethical government, but the devil is in the details as always. Ask yourself where is the example of government stepping in taking responsibility over the individual has worked in the past. I think you would agree that it is far better to trust the individual than the government when it comes to knowing the difference between right and wrong.

    • EdFulop EdFulop says:

      Alan —

      Your commentary is most appreciated, and I must tell you that I agree with you. In fact, I believe almost everyone in our group would agree that growing government, at any level, is a bad idea. The best watchdog for the people’s trust would be the people themselves. An active electorate, that came to every BCC meeting, prepared to speak on every issue, with a full grasp of every item or issue on the Board’s agenda, that they’ve done the research on to support their opinions intelligently, perhaps even suggest alternate courses of action. An ideal world; political utopia, yes? Unfortunately, we know the truth here, don’t we, Alan? There’s no quicker way to get the public at large to tune you out than to start talking about local politics and government. We’re busy working at our jobs, raising families, maintaining our homes, and building our lives.

      Do you have the time to request copies of contracts that the Board has signed with vendors and service providers, and comb them for waste and inefficiencies? Or information requests on every commissioner every month to verify what gifts they received from whom, and whether or not it was a favor for something done in the past, or a bribe for something to be done in the future? If you do, I’d like to have you appointed to the Commission on Ethics, so we can all benefit from your time and attention to detail. We have to devise pitfalls to curb politicians appetites for the power we’ve temporarily loaned them. It should be hard on them, so they’ll want to leave, and not be glued to their offices for 20 to 30 years at a time.

      Churchill is remembered for saying many quotes; some of them funny, all of them wise. One that sticks out in my mind is “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.” The people have to put obstacles in the path of government, in my opinion, to make it more difficult for them to legislate burdens upon us. This was the vision of our country’s Founding Fathers, and why amendments to the Constitution are so hard to get added, or that a bill has to go through both houses AND get the President’s signature before becoming a law. You say above that we’ll look at it from the outside and say “Why can’t they get anything done”? It’s been my experience that government does the most damage to us when they DO get something done. Thomas Paine’s, too; he said “That government is best which governs least.” The devil isn’t in the details, my friend — where government is concerned, it’s in the doing.


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