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Ethics Officer Says City Vendor Discount for City Manager’s Family Not Against Ethics Code

Posted on July 17, 2017

Ethics Officer Says City Vendor Discount for City Manager’s Family Not Against Ethics Code

Tallahassee Reports recently published a story about a $4,700 discount on a catering bill from the Edison restaurant given to a family member of Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez. The Edison restaurant, which was partly developed with city funds, has a contract with the City of Tallahassee to lease the old electric building in Cascades Park.

Subsequently, an anonymous complaint was filed with the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board. The complaint alleged that Mr. Fernandez received an “improper gift” from a vendor.

On Tuesday, during the monthly meeting of the Ethics Board, the Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe, will recommend that the complaint be dismissed.

In the agenda item, Ms. Meadows-Keefe writes that she reviewed the complaint, related documents and spoke with Mr. Fernandez. Based on this investigation, she concludes that there was “no violation of the City Ethics Code.” See document below.

CloseCase

However, Tallahassee Reports has been told concerned citizens will ask the Ethics Board to refer the complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The Florida Commission on Ethics enforces Chapter 112 of the Florida Statutes which regulates the actions of public officials and government employees. Chapter 112 addresses prohibited relationships with reporting individuals and vendors.

The statutes define a vendor as a business entity doing business directly with an agency, such as renting, leasing, or selling any realty, goods, or services.

The statute addresses gifts from vendors:

“A reporting individual or procurement employee is prohibited from soliciting any gift from a vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency….., where such gift is for the personal benefit of the reporting individual or procurement employee, another reporting individual or procurement employee, or any member of the immediate family of a reporting individual or procurement employee. “(emphasis added)

“A reporting individual or procurement employee or any other person on his or her behalf is prohibited from knowingly accepting, directly or indirectly, a gift from a vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency..” (emphasis added)

The statute also addresses the actions of a vendor:

“A vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency;….. is prohibited from giving, either directly or indirectly, a gift that has a value in excess of $100 to the reporting individual or procurement employee or any other person on his or her behalf..” (emphasis added)

TR will have a follow-up report after the Ethics Board meeting on Tuesday.

23 Responses to Ethics Officer Says City Vendor Discount for City Manager’s Family Not Against Ethics Code

  1. Frank Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I wonder since my niece is getting married this November if I can get a $4700.00 discount… My guess is no.

  2. Luther Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    If that discount is available to all city employees it might not be a violation…

    • Dr. Erwin Jackson Reply

      July 21, 2017 at 5:56 am

      I disagree. That $5000 discount has to be given to every citizen in Tallahassee. If city won’t forward complaint on to the state the public should.

  3. Julie Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Open your eyes Tallahasse

  4. Mary Eppinger Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Maybe the FBI needs to look into this also. Seems that anything our city fathers do is always found to be legal. There seem to never be any consequences for anything they do!

  5. Phil Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    I assume the bride’s family paid for the reception. A $4,000 discount is a gift in my opinion.

  6. Karma Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Maybe you should see the discounts given to the annual “Mayor’s Brunch”, and “Mayors Children’s Bfast”. Then look at the markup on the “FSU Student Veterans event”. Or you could just ask any of the former employees they screwed over, or paid late, or just used in general….karma. And why is this all about Adam Corey? His business partner Ryan Grindler is far worse.

  7. Joan Fowinkle Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 8:23 am

    The ethics officer doesn’t have good ethics herself to deem this as not a violation. It clearly was wrong. I am tired of corrupt politics in Tallahassee. We need a change across the political spectrum.

  8. Dr. Erwin Jackson Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

    The ethics officer was hand picked by our city attorney Shelly to insure commissioners will never be found guilty of an ethics violation! I strongly suggest that the ethics commission members fire the ethics officer immediately!

    • Mr. Curious Reply

      July 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Absolutely! It is quite evident that this “officer” has no idea what the term “ethics” is truly defined as. And the city attorney should go as well. I’m still wondering why the city attorney is giving legal advice to commissioners on the FBI investigation if it dealt with their personal actions and not as city officials? Can anyone say, “Free legal advice?” There has long been a smell that has been rising up at city hall. Hey Tallahassee, the stench is getting stronger and stronger every day.

  9. Concerned citizen Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 9:15 am

    If anyone want to ask me questions related to my HOA candidacy. please PM me. And I am happy to send a link to the City meeting referenced and documents that reflect what happened at the meeting. This article isn’t accurate. Matter still open. Feel free to PM me for the link to the meeting and documents. You can also call my cell at 322-1655.

    • Steve

      Steve Reply

      July 18, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Here is a link to document that supports article: http://bit.ly/2u53kyk

    • Dr. Erwin Jackson Reply

      July 21, 2017 at 6:08 am

      If it’s open why haven’t you taken action. When willl it go before the commission! When will you force issue that allows city to investigate commissioners! Send me the link.
      Ironic that FBI has 2 year investigation of city commissioners and they don’t want to give ethics commission power to investigate city officials.

  10. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 10:16 am

    What is the use of the Ethics Office? I wonder if it would be better to ask the State Attorney or the Governor (FDLE) to look into our local government.

  11. Concerned citizen Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

    How do you file an ethics complaint against the ethics officer?

  12. Sarah Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Per, what they teach in the city’s mandatory ethics classes, it was against ethics for city employees to take gifts of $50 or more… how does this NOT violate city policies?

    NOTE: City administrators (Asst. City Managers, asst. to City manager, etc) used to be the ones who taught the ethics classes

  13. Steven Hougland Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    The only way I see that this could not be a gift is if the same or similar discount were offered to ALL customers. The fact that a family member of the City Manager received the discount is prima facia evidence of preferential treatment and unethical conduct.The level of illegal, unethical, incompetent, inept (pick an adjective) conduct at City Hall is just mind-boggling at this point.

    I believe we have far passed the opportunity of correcting these issues by simply replacing 2 commissioners every 2 years. The same people continue to get re-elected and we march further into the pit of Dante’s hell. This can only be fixed by replacing all city commissioners, the Mayor, the City Manager, the city attorney, and all top-level managers.

    We need to have a serious discussion about consolidation.

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      July 18, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      We have our own deep state at city hall.

  14. Hope & Change Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    This is the same Ethic Office George Orwell wrote about in Animal Farm. The Pigs can do anything and it is ethical. Put this right up there with the :Deferred Compensaton”.

    The City Manager better declare this $4,700 as income on his Federal Tax Return. I will send a whistle blower note to the IRS. Internal Revenue Code defines income from “any source”.

  15. Bill Carlton Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    It was opportunistic on the part of the owner of the Edison and another nail in the coffin of the city manager, whether or not it violated any ethics code. There is a moral code that is higher than any ethics code that elected officials need to adhere to.

  16. Concerned citizen Reply

    July 18, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I called three times, she does not pick up. Has anyone else called her?

  17. Sarah Reply

    July 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

    You guys need to dig and see if the guy who got the permanent job in the Communications Dept, who was involved in this discount, is among the 47 about to lose their jobs. If not, this story could even evolve into something much larger.

  18. Be Reasonable Reply

    July 27, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    What a bunch of chatter about nothing. Since when does a negotiated discount on a bid become income? Since when does a negotiated reduction in a retail bid, that results in a contract become an ethical violation? I can’t think of one other venue that could supply these services in this town that would not have taken this contract for the same amount or lower.. folks, its called competitive process. If your niece (hope and change) is getting married and you have that much to spend, please check around and get your own “discount” or you will not be getting a fair price.. so what I’m reading on these posts is.. if you buy something at a negotiated discount, the reduction is income.. someone has lost their mind here.. please remember to include on your tax return all “discounts” offered in the newspaper.. what a bunch of chatter over absolutely nothing..

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