When the City Attorney and City Auditor filled the in-house ethics officer position last month, they passed on hiring the former General Counsel of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who also served as the agency’s Chief Ethics Officer.
Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City of Tallahassee narrowed the selection of the City’s Ethic Officer to three candidates after interviewing nine candidates from a pool of approximately 150 applicants.
The three candidates selected were Julie Meadows-Keefe, who was eventually hired by the City of Tallahassee, Michael Ramage, former General Counsel of Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and Charles Faircloth, former Chief of Staff of the Florida Department of Financial Service.
All three candidates were interviewed by City Attorney Lew Shelley, City Auditor Bert Fletcher, City Treasurer Clerk James Cooke, and City Manager Anita Favors Thompson.
The full applications for the three finalists can be reviewed by clicking on the links below. Summaries of the applicants latest work experience as provided by the applicants are listed at the end of this post.
Ultimately, the City Attorney and the City Auditor were responsible for the hiring decision and chose Julie Meadows-Keefe to fill the position.
City Attorney Bert Fletcher told Tallahassee Reports that Meadows-Keefe was the only candidate offered the job.
Reviews of the candidates’ applications show that both Mr. Ramage and Mr. Faircloth provided significantly more details about their work history than Ms. Meadows-Keefe.
Michael Ramage told Tallahassee Reports that the hour long interview focused on how his experience would translate to the City position.
When asked why he applied for the position, Ramage said “I applied because I thought my experience at FDLE would be a good fit for the position.”
Ramage confirmed he was not offered the job but indicated he would have probably accepted an offer.
When asked what specific qualifications separated Meadows-Keefe from the other two candidates, Fletcher first stated she was “the most qualified” and then added she “was the best fit for what we are doing.”
The timing of the hiring of the in-house ethics officer, right after a charter amendment requiring an independent ethics officer was approved for the November ballot, has raised questions about the motives of the City by those seeking independent oversight of City actions.
In fact, a Tallahassee Democrat editorial wrote about the hiring, “The City has a new ethics officer. But it still has a problem.”
Now supporters of the ballot initiative, off the record of course, are questioning the qualifications of the recently hired ethics officer.
“How can you review the applications and say Meadows-Keefe is more qualified that Mr. Ramage – it’s not possible.”
Another said, “How do you pass on the Chief Ethics Officer of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement?”
Applicants’ Latest Full-Time Work History Details As Provided On Application
Employer: Grossman, Furlow & Bayo
Job Title: Of Counsel
Number of Employees Supervised: 0
Start Date: 2/1/2012
Description: Practice focused on HIPPA and Professional Licensure Defense.
Michael R Ramage
Job Title: General Counsel
Number of Employees Supervised: 20
Start Date: 6/15/1992-2/28/2014
Description: Chief counsel for statewide law enforcement agency (the activities of which include complex fraud and rug investigations, the state’s Capitol Police, the state’s domestic security function, the state criminal history database, multiple statewide crime labs, and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission officer licensure functions). Personal duties include: -FDLE Chief Ethics Officer and Privacy Officer. -Florida State Fusion Center Privacy Officer. -Registered legislative lobbyist. -Supervisor of 14 agency attorneys around the state, responsible for hiring & termination; monitoring quality and accuracy of legal work performed; addressing workload locations and resolving conflicts and “law office issues.” Also supervised 5 support (administrative and secretarial) staffers. -Member of FDLE’s Command Staff. –Assisting internal affairs and inspector general inquires. –Assisting in CALEA certification/recertification legal issues. -Counsel tot he Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council –Working with the Florida Police Chiefs association, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association ad the Florida Association of Police Attorneys on matters of mutual interest. Testifying before state and Congressional committees. Developing (writing and narrating) online in-house ethics and public records training segments as well as developing and presenting live presentations on ethics, public records, privacy, sexual harassment, and police legal issues. Policy and procedure drafting and review.
Charles T Faircloth
Employer: Florida Department of Financial Services
Job Title: Chief of Staff/Exec. Dir.
Number of Employees Supervised: 2
Start Date: 2/07/2011-7/31/2014
Description: Senior manger supporting Florida’s Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Strike Force, a multi-governmental anti-fraud task force chaired by Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and vice-chaired by the Attorney General. The Strike Force members also include the agency heads of DCF, AHCA, DOH and FDLE as well as two Police Chiefs, two Sheriffs and a State Attorney. Plans and leads all Strike Force activities including quarterly Strike Force meetings, monthly subcomittee meetings and preparation of the annual report. Extensive interagency intelligence ordination ad communication fraud issues involving state funds, state agencies and local prosecution ad law enforcement agencies. Oversees efforts to improve and innovate IT data systems commonality, connectivity and consolidation for anti-fraud programs. Responsible for improving the State of Florida’s communication, cooperation and regulatory and law enforcement actions against Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud. Leaving because the Strike Force has ended its existence.
FDLE experience, even long time experience, doesn’t automatically make one the most qualified for ethics officer: part of this job is to help move others to think differently about how they do their work, without having the power to order them to do it. That requires certain presentation and persuasion skills.
And a decision about who is “most qualified” ought not to be made or argued based on a summary in an employment application. That is why there is an interview process.
Sooo, how is Ms. HIPAA’s job going to be affected by the charter amendment? Will she have to re-apply?
The Tallahassee Democrat endorsed voting NO on the ethic’s amendment, but it passed overwhelmingly. I guess Nancy Miller’s last minute ‘My View’ attempt at trying to sway voters to vote “NO” backfired.
Tallahassee passes amendment:
Tallahassee Democrat endorsement to vote NO:
Nancy Miller’s (ridiculous) ‘My View’:
So the lapdog will get appointed as the watchdog, now that the election calls for an appointed ethics officer? Lets hope she has teeth and will do a good job.
The only qualification that is necessary for this job is do you have a conscience and do you know the difference between right and wrong because that is what is lacking in our police department.
Looks like Julie researched all she knows on her Pinterest account. Thanks Google !!
Once again Tallahassee Reports is doing the kind of reporting the local newspaper should be doing. Maybe they will pick this story up in a few days and send Tallahassee Reports a finders fee. I’m sure they did that on the Killearn Golf Club article they ran after you wrote about it.
Steve, I do have a question. Keefe’s application doesn’t have much information, is there any way you can get her resume and see what it has on it? Her linked-in page says she was the ethics officer for a state agency, I forget which one now, so she may actually be more qualified than what it appears at first glance.
I do not know Julie Meadows-Keefe so I certainly will not presume to be critical of her. Instead, I will limit my comments to the extraordinary qualifications of Mr. Ramage and Mr. Faircloth.
When two highly qualified candidates are passed over for a less qualified one, the clear message is the employer is seeking something other than the standard of quality of investigations, or the legal sufficiency of case management a highly experienced candidate brings to the table.
One reason a government agency selects a lesser qualified applicant for employment is so the agency’s power is not threatened, so the influence of agency management, elected or appointed, is not diminished. Simply stated, they hire the least threatening candidate.
The city has insulted us again by making a private the commander. A private may become a general, but only after many years of combat experience and when his, or her, resume reflects an appropriate level of achievement.
An unsubstantiated statement that the private will be “a good fit” is hardly sufficient.
We should all hope the charter referendum passes and a city ethics officer will be selected by other than those to be who may be subject to his or her investigative authority.
To say that Gillium and Miller’s attitude is contemptuousness at the thought of an ethics officer being selected by anyone but their fellow dubious cohorts, would be understatement!
Same old, same old. Sure looks like business as usual. “Pay to Play”; The biggest political donors get large contracts for their private development purposes with “taxpayer dollars”.
This is part of the reason that running for office has become so expensive.
I hope that Tallahassee citizens begin to put a stop to “business as usual” by voting in favor of the an ethics commission. Ethics should not be a partisan issue.
Everything about this position precludes the hiring of an ethical person. The process,the job description, the job responsibilities, the employer; all require an unethical person.
I also applied for the position with the City. I was turned down for not meeting the initial requirements. The only one I saw, and questioned, was over management supervision. I have 15 years of law enforcement experience, have been a business owner and have extensive work experience with the public. When I questioned the City of how exactly I did not meet the qualifications, I got the brush-off. Still possibly considering a legal action as no one has still answered my questions. I agree this has sounded like a move with alternative motives. Glad now I didn’t get it, but I am for the referendum for a independant selection board.
When they pass on the most obviously qualified, there are ulterior motives in play. But that is my assessment of the City… rather have employees who toe the line.