“Perception is everything. If you commit a crime, you should pay a penalty—especially if you are a public servant.” State of Florida Senator Fasano said.
The past few months we have read about controversy over elected officials making mistakes, or mistakes involving personal gains. Ethic’s issues of wrongdoings should be looked at with other actions made by staff during any business day in this city, county, and state government. This would be for the benefit of free enterprise and property rights to insure a freer, healthy government, producing less corruption in government.
In less than three years, Governor Crist removed 33 public officials from office because of wrongdoings, although the home page for the State of Florida Commission on Ethics states that Florida has been a leader among the States in establishing ethics standards for public officials because the people have the right to protect that public trust against abuse. Has the State of Florida set a good example for other States?
The statewide grand jury stated that Florida needed good ethics legislation to clean up government and save taxpayers money, but acknowledged that lawmakers and public officials are not very likely to crack down on themselves. The grand jury called for criminalization of several corrupt acts that are currently only punished under civil law by the State’s Ethic’s code.
The Grand Jury found that legislators refused to get a bill out of committee calling for criminal penalties for certain crimes as bid tampering and bribery when done by a public officer.
The report states “given the serious fiscal limitation at all levels of government, anti-corruption efforts must stop the theft and mismanagement of public funds.” Mismanagement and theft penalizes taxpayers by driving up the cost of all government services.
Removing the word “Turkey” in the budget would serve everyone well, including the Republicans and Democrats alike. Turkey opens the process for corruption and favoritisms, bringing ethics charges against those that get caught.
It would appear that the only way to get a Code of Ethics or a reform of the ethics code would be for a committee independent of the lawmakers to establish a set of rules, not only for public officials but also for staff at all levels of government.
The ordinances are so convoluted that staff and engineers do not understand the true objective of the ordinances because the intent is unclear. This leaves the interpretation of ordinances up to staff and even different staff can interpret the ordinances differently.
Public sector employees, who are virtually invisible to the average citizen, heavily influence our community’s corporate attitude about growth. Their personal interpretation of growth management rules directly impacts private property values as well as the community’s attractiveness (or lack thereof) to prospective business employers. This means that property values and the growth of our community frequently hang on the personal wishes of an unelected government employee. Therefore, every public sector job description dealing with free enterprise issues should be reviewed and if necessary be rewritten. Every job description should make it clear that staff members are not community policy makers. Rather, they are employed by taxpayers to be, first and foremost, courteous and helpful public servants. As a great rule, the benefit of any doubt concerning interpretation of rules should be added to the benefit of the free enterprise system and the property owner that pays for the benefits our government employee enjoys.
It is an inherent characteristic of all the governments to grow larger by increasing revenues, creating new programs, expanding old programs and by hiring more people. Left unchecked, governments will ultimately consume crippling percentages of private sector growth and wealth. Therefore, all proposed fees and tax increases should be evaluated in the context of the total tax burden on the taxpayer. In most cases, tax increases should be vigorously resisted.
Free enterprise and private property rights are essential to individual freedom and to a growing standard of living. Therefore, free enterprise and private property rights should be aggressively defended for the benefit of a free, healthy government.
The ability of private property holders to use their property to the best economic and personal advantage has come under attack by the political bureaucrat of the 1990’s and left us a legacy of a decaying free enterprise system. It is the free enterprise system that is necessary to keep a free government healthy.