Posted in: City, Exclusive

City’s Ethics Board Delays Decision on Pledge

Posted on March 16, 2016

City’s Ethics Board Delays Decision on Pledge

The City’s Independent Ethics Board has been considering adopting an ethics pledge for Board members since November of last year. However, it appears the Board members cannot get comfortable with the language.

LShelley

City Attorney, Lew Shelley

In addition, during the meeting, City Attorney Lew Shelley, representing the City Commission, spoke to the Board and urged them not to adopt the pledge.

The pledge, labeled as a “personal ethics statement’, was on the agenda for the last Ethics Board meeting.

The pledge addresses potential conflicts that might arise with Board members such as a Board member working for the City or securing a financial benefit from the City.

The Ethics Board encountered some issues with conflicts last year. You can read our reports here and here.

The proposed pledge is shown below:

During my term on the board:

A. I will voluntarily file the additional financial disclosures required of city elected officials by section 2-8 of the city’s ethics code ordinance.

B. I will complete annual ethics training and understand the consequences of ethics code violations. I will abide by the policies, procedures, and bylaws of the ethics board.

C. I will not use my service on the board to obtain a financial benefit from the city for myself or any member of my immediate family. This does not include support or reimbursement I get solely for performing my board related duties.

D. I will not be an employee or elected or appointed official of the city, a lobbyist paid to influence any act of officials of the city, or a candidate or applicant for any office or position with the city. I was not for a period of at least ____ years before being appointed to the board.

E. I will not perform contract work for the city or the board or supervise or have direct responsibility for any person who does. I did not for a period of at least ____ years before being appointed to the board.

The final decision by the Board was to delay any action on the pledge.

10 Responses to City’s Ethics Board Delays Decision on Pledge

  1. Peggy Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Well shoot! How can they line their pockets if they have to abide by that pledge? No brainer!

  2. Dr. Erwin Jackson Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    This pledge is very important. It simply states that commissioners will not use their position for their own personal gain. Every citizen in the City want their commissioners to sign this document and then act accordingly. The City Attorney, representing the Commissioners, begs that City commissioners NOT be required to sign such a pledge – that they will NOT feed themselves at the city money trough! The city attorney should be concerned because history shows that it is difficult for elected officials to not seek personal financial gain. This is a clear example why the city staff, city attorney etc should not be allowed to have input into the actions of this “independent” ethics
    commission. IT IS TIME THIS ETHICS COMMISSION BEGINS TO ACT INDEPENDENTLY.

  3. daisyduck Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    The article is about the Ethics Board members being asked to sign the form. Not the City Commissioners. You should understand the issue better before commenting.

  4. Dennis Barton Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    There is no mention in the post why the city attorney argued against the pledge.

  5. HOPE & CHANGE Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    The first pledge they should take is to get rid of the current City Attorney. It would be a step in the right direction. No pun intended.

  6. Ben Poitevent Reply

    March 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    With respect to Dr. Jackson, Daisyduck is correct, the proposed pledge imposes a standard of conduct only on the members of the city Independent Ethics Board, not the city commission.
    The Ethics Board has the legal mandate to investigate allegations of unethical activity by any city employee or elected official. It does not have the legal authority to impose internal procedures or policies on the city commission.
    The decision by the Board at the 3/15 meeting to delay further consideration on the pledge was based on opposition to the wording as being too weak. Other stronger proposed pledges have been discussed and will be considered at future meetings.
    Among those speaking in opposition to the wording of the proposed pledge was a representative of Integrity Florida, a statewide organization with expertise in government ethics.

  7. HOPE & CHANGE Reply

    March 17, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    The entire circus that is playing out with our so called Ethics Board would be amusing if it was not such a sad indictment of our local government, elected officials and employees. How did we attract so many morally corrupt individuals in one place?

  8. bob fulford Reply

    March 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Most every action related to the citizens’ mandate for an INDEPENDENT ethics board has been unethical.

    How could so many citizens vote for the INDEPENDENT ethics board and then , apparently, sit by and watch the City co opt the notion?

    • Ben Poitevent Reply

      March 17, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      I have attended a number of the public meetings of the Ethics Board. I am just a retired, interested citizen, I am not on the Board, have never applied to be on the Board, and have no financial interest in the actions of the Board. I am, however, very interested in the success of the Board in accomplishing the purpose for which the citizens created it, becoming the workhorse of the citizens in identifying, investigating and prosecuting unethical activity by any city employee or elected official.
      The Board is not subordinate to the city commission or its staff, but functions independent of political intervention from any source. My impression is that the Board is very insistent on its independence.
      At its meeting yesterday, as a courtesy, the Board allowed the city attorney to be heard. The Board provides the same courtesy to any person, citizen or group who requests to be heard.
      The fact that the city attorney addressed the Board does not mean they were intimidated, coerced, or swayed by him. In fact, his comments made no apparent impact on the members.
      i would encourage all citizens to attend the Ethics Board meetings. You will see a group made up of other citizens, working hard, for no pay, trying to be what the voters want them to be, the ethical compass, the ethical enforcement authority for Tallahassee government. Come decide for yourself. Be heard, the Board wants to know what you think and why. They even llsten to me.

  9. Go Figure Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    People, it is this simple…

    Any man that spends “private” money to get elected to a “public” office clearly does it for “personal” gain. So I ask you this…At what point did becoming a “public servant” turn into a avenue to “personal” gain? Clearly the problem with our political system…if they were all truly “public servants” none of these positions would offer a paycheck/and or benefits…And as you asked, there is the “SPECIFIC” problem.

    Why don’t we “SPECIFICALLY” ask this question…“what happened to the wisdom of knowing the difference between wrong and right”?????

    I also want to add “F” to this list.

    (F) before any board member so eagerly gives away “our” money AKA the city’s money, perhaps when the feel so compelled then they should open their own dam wallet.

    Oh wait, Then this will never pass!!

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