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City Ethics Officer Did Not Inform Board of Possible Conflict, Calls Situation “Entirely Acceptable”

Posted on August 10, 2015

City Ethics Officer Did Not Inform Board of Possible Conflict, Calls Situation “Entirely Acceptable”

Tallahassee Reports spoke with the City’s appointed Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe, about the hiring of a law firm to serve as counsel to the Ethics Board that also does significant business with the City of Tallahassee.

Tallahassee Reports wrote about the relationship here.

Ms. Meadows-Keefe told Tallahassee Reports that she was aware of the relationship between the Ausley law firm and the City of Tallahassee when Mr. Curington of the Ausley firm was recommended to the Ethics Board.

However, Ms. Meadows-Keefe said she emailed Mr. Curington’s resume to Board members, but did not provide any information to Board members about the Ausley law firm business relationship with the City of Tallahassee.

At the July 13th Ethics Board meeting, the Board approved the hire by consensus. No formal vote was taken.

On July 14, 2015, the Chair of the Ethics Board, Lila Jaber, signed a contract with Jerry Curington of the Ausley McMullen law firm to be the General Counsel for the City’s Ethics Board.

Peter Butzin, chair of Common Cause Florida and a member of Citizens for Ethics Reform told the Tallahassee Democrat that “it was all done behind closed doors. We don’t even know who made the decision.”

Ms. Meadows-Keefe said that there are Florida Bar rules that indicate the situation is “entirely acceptable.”  Meadows-Keefe added,  “for the day to day work of the Board there is no conflict.”

However, Ms. Meadows-Keefe did indicate there could be a situation when a conflict might arise.

When asked what would happen if a complaint was filed against a City Commissioner and the hired Counsel was asked to give a legal opinion?

Ms. Meadows-Keefe said, “the Board would have to address the issue.”

11 Responses to City Ethics Officer Did Not Inform Board of Possible Conflict, Calls Situation “Entirely Acceptable”

  1. bob fulford Reply

    August 10, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Be patient, citizens. hang in there. It takes much longer and more effort to bring long-time unethical people around to ethical behavior. Sometimes they can’t be redirected and must be relocated.

    Error in the premise leads to error in the conclusion.

  2. mike Reply

    August 11, 2015 at 8:04 am

    This fits exactly with the pervasive and habitual pattern of corruption that comprises Tallahassee City Government. From the Mayor down to Commissioners and staffers, there is an ingrained effort to obfuscate or conceal clear, specific information about budget, taxes, salaries, and votes on city issues and policies. There is also obvious collusion with some local media to aid this corruption.

    If left unimpeded, this city government will destroy the economy and quality of life in Tallahassee. I’ve lived here eight years and I have no intention of prolonging my stay another eight. There are far more ethically managed and economically advantaged communities than Tallahassee in this state that offer me and my family a better future. I forsee no change in the voting habits of this city that would end the revolving door of corrupt city government individuals.

  3. Mark Reply

    August 11, 2015 at 8:27 am

    We need a response from Ausley McMullen law firm.
    It is their reputation on the line here.

    • Edward Holifield, M.D.

      Edward Holifield, M.D. Reply

      August 12, 2015 at 1:48 am

      What reputation? It was the Ausley law firm that fought to the bitter end to keep blacks out of Leon High School.

  4. Michael Paris Reply

    August 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

    The institutionalized corruption just continues with the City of Tallahassee. The Ausleys, Proctors, Crowders, Phipps and their allies continue to leverage all things to their private interests. They are so inbred and laced together it is sickening. I am sure I have left some other influential names out, but it is going to end in indictments. Meadows is another hand puppet put in place by this group. The word on the street is and has been for awhile that Marks is working for the FBI in a corruption investigation that is wide sweeping, I hope that is true. The Democrat is useless here for upsetting status quo.

  5. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    August 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I want to STRONGLY encourage readers to go to the next Ethics Board meeting and ask to be heard. It is August 20th at noon in the “Tallahassee Room” at City Hall. Demand that they open up the hiring process and interview, at the very least, the two other finalists that the City passed on. Tallahassee Reports has their resumes ( http://tallahasseereports.com/2014/11/03/city-passes-over-fdle-general-counsel-for-in-house-ethics-position-questions-arise-over-qualifications-of-new-hire/) and it is not even close. The City did not want a competent person in the job; the City wanted a rubber stamp. One look at the resumes will clinch it. If this Ethics will not honor the Charter referendum then a lawsuit will be needed.

  6. sylviajplatt Reply

    August 14, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Ya’ll disrespecting her because she’s a woman who got a job that two dudes wanted?

  7. Terry Ward Reply

    August 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Ethical, this was an ethical action by the Ethics Board established by the City? Does anyone need any further information as to the reason the Ethics Board over seeing the City, cannot be from the City? Show them what is ethical with our vote.

  8. sylviajplatt Reply

    August 15, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Who thinks it’s gonna really do anything anyway? Smoke n mirrors however it’s sliced.

  9. BFB Reply

    September 1, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I have to laugh. Do you think all of the board members were unaware of who Mr. Curington works for? Ms. Meadows-Keefe is looking out after the person signing her paycheck – plain and simple. While the firm may be fully capable of performing their duties ethicaly – and would speak up should a conflict arise, it’s all suspect because it reeks as business as usual – one good ole boy to another!

  10. Noni Mausse Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Ms Meadows-Keefe was told months ago about the pedophile ring recently in the news, the fact that the ring had hired Tallahassee Organized Stalking to destroy Myron May because he was exposing the Florida State employee connections, like Mr. Kennedy at FDLE, and she ignored the tip. In fact, she was suite hostile. Some “ethics” officer, eh?

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