The City of Tallahassee staff will formally ask the City Commissioners to vote against some of the major recommendations made by the Ethics Advisory Panel (EAP) on Wednesday during a City Commission workshop.
The Ethics Advisory Panel, made up of nine citizens, including a retired Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court and a former President of the American Bar Association, spent over nine months debating the need for more stringent ethics rules and policies.
The end result were ground breaking recommendations that included an appointed ethics officer, penalties for elected officials who violate the new rules, and the requirement for City hired lobbyists to disclose their clients.
Retired Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Harry Anstead, said during one of the last meetings that “Tallahassee is the capital of the fourth largest state. We are missing a golden opportunity to distinguish Tallahassee if we don’t do this. Ethics and professionalism is the heart of public service.”
Chair Martha Barnett, former President of the American Bar Association in the debate about an appointed ethics officer stated “we are here because there are problems and we have a once in a decade opportunity to make a difference.”
But City Staff was not persuaded. Instead they have crafted their own recommendations that go against the findings of the Panel.
Staff recommended against an appointed ethics officer because of cost and because it would have to be a ballot measure.
Staff recommended against City hired lobbyist being required to disclose clients, but gave no substantive reason for the recommendation.
And finally, the Staff recommended against penalties for elected officials violating the new ethics rule because “there is no history to indicate that elected officials would fail to comply.”
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