PBC Passes the Ethics/IG Ordinances
Thanks to all of you in South Florida 912 who worked for passage of the Palm Beach County Ethics Ordinances (Code of Ethics, Commission on Ethics and the Office of the Inspector General) over the last two years. First – your emails and petitions and speaking out at the County Commission meetings helped get passage of the ordinances by the County Commission in December 2009. Then you voted in November, 2010 to get the ordinances to apply to your cities. And this year, you helped convince the Board of County Commissioners to approve the ordinances unanimously.
Now it is up to the Office of the Inspector General to prove its worth. And as the Code of Ethics gets implemented throughout the cities – perhaps our elected officials as well as local and county employees who serve the public, will restore our faith and trust in our local governments. Let’s hope that this is a major step towards repairing our County’s reputation.
And following is the State Attorney’s press release upon passage of the ordinances:
OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY
FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY
MICHAEL F. McAULIFFE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of State Attorney Michael McAuliffe regarding Final Approval
of Ethics Reform Ordinances in Palm Beach County on May 17, 2011
With the final approval by the County Commission of the code of ethics and the two enabling ordinances for the Office of Inspector General and the Ethics Commission, the community can rightfully claim that Palm Beach County is living in an era of real and fundamental ethics reform. Today’s final vote comes almost exactly two years after my office working with the grand jury produced a Grand Jury Report outlining specific, comprehensive ethics reforms locally and on a statewide basis. Many voices combined to create the chorus which carried the message that change was necessary. A public/private coalition was formed by several groups and individuals including the Voters’ Coalition, the Economic Council and Leadership Palm Beach County, which helped steer the debate and supported the proposed ethics reforms. Numerous elected and community leaders weighed in to add momentum to the process. Local print media championed these reforms with ongoing coverage and advocacy.
The ethics reforms first applied to only the county; however, in November 2010, voters overwhelmingly (over 70% approval) voted for expanding the ethics reforms to all cities in the County. The ensuing effort to apply the county reforms to the municipalities by re-writing and editing the ordinances was at times heated, even contentious, but the process worked and all perspectives had an opportunity to advocate for or against the proposed changes. The commission’s final approval today of the code of ethics, the IG ordinance and the Ethics Commission ordinance brings closure to a chapter in the ethics reform movement here in Palm Beach County. However, an equally important new chapter starts.
The inspector general and the ethics commission must now pursue a course of independent, but respectful engagement with the individuals and entities within their jurisdictions. The IG and the ethics commission are now able to focus not on the parameters of their duties, but on fulfilling them on behalf of the community. And, as the IG and the ethics commission develop a body of work, we will be able to make judgments regarding the roles we have assigned them. My office will remain an active and committed advocate for these institutions and for fairly judging them as they have the opportunity to make a difference.
INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Alsofrom, Public Information Officer