TALLAHASSEE — Some have compared Tallahassee to Gotham, the fictional, corrupt, crime-riddled metropolis of comic book, movie and television fame.
Bob Lotane, candidate for City Commission Seat 5, doesn’t buy into that characterization.
Lotane, a public relations (PR) and communications expert said, “I’m not willing to stipulate Tallahassee is this horrible place, this Gotham, needing Batman to (swoop) in with the cape.
“Do we have problems in this city? Absolutely. But Tallahassee is bigger than people who violate the public trust, people who commit violent crimes, etc. We are working to address (these issues) and we will continue to work to address them. But let’s not forget, this is a great city that will not be destroyed by a few unethical contractors, public officials, felons, etc,” he said.
Mr. Lotane, who lists priorities on his campaign website, said he believes strengthening the city’s ethics ordinance and board must happen.
“In 2014 Tallahassee voters said they wanted an ethics code even stronger than the State of Florida. I don’t want to point fingers, but for whatever reason, that hasn’t happened. We are way overdue to give the voters what they demanded,” Lotane said.
He said the current standard of “corrupt intent” needed to bring an ethics complaint against an elected official is too high of a bar to reach. He said the standard should change to “simple intent.”
He explained, “Simple intent is if (a public official) intended to do something wrong and it can be proven, by the ethics board, that (official) meant to do it. That should be enough.”
He also said the interaction between city officials and lobbyists needs to be more transparent.
Lotane wants lobbyists to completely register with the city and disclose every client for which they are working and for what issues or legislation they are lobbying.
He said the cozy relationships between city officials and people with business interest before the city must be revealed. He said officials should not be voting on issues which benefit themselves or the inner circle of people who helped get him or her elected.
These types of relationships have landed some city officials and local business people in hot water recently, with a federal investigation into local corruption.
“The federal investigation of the city was because we had public officials, at least one official, that violated the public trust. If you violated the public trust, you need to be punished. They are working on that now,” Lotane said.
He continued, “The federal subpoenas and the possibility of public officials being indicted are bad optics. Being recognized for the highest violent crime rate gives us bad optics. Solving these problems — trying to lower the crime rate, trying to reduce poverty, trying to get through this federal investigation — is job one, obviously.
“But those optics don’t go away immediately. So (once those issues are addressed) we must then work on changing those bad optics. That’s PR. That’s where I think I can help. (If elected) I can assist city staff on a campaign to turn those (optics) around.”
Lotane has over 15 years in PR and communications. Currently Lotane is the Senior Consultant/Vice President of Hill + Knowlton Strategies, working with insurance companies and other businesses to advance their interests before state government. Before that he was a communications consultant with Ron Sachs Communications and the Communications and Political Affairs Director at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
For more information visit Mr. Lotane’s campaign website here.