TR has learned that the City of Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board has begun an investigation into the pension payments being made to former City Commissioner Debbie Lightsey.
The Executive Director of the Ethics Board, Julie Meadows-Keefe, provides a status of complaints and investigations each month. This months report, which is part of the agenda to be discussed during the May 17th Ethics Board meeting, includes a reference to an investigation into a complaint “regarding pension payments.”
Under the “Action Taken” category of the report, Ms. Meadows-Keefe wrote: “Met with citizen, accepted documents, review documents, contacted Board Chair, commenced preliminary investigation, consulted with legal counsel.”
TR has confirmed through sources that the complaint is about the monthly pension payments currently being made to former City Commissioner Debbie Lightsey.
At the heart of the complaint is the fact that former City Commissioner Debbie Lightsey is receiving a monthly pension based on an inflated salary. The annual salary of a Tallahassee City Commissioner is approximately $36,000 and is set by the City Charter. Documents show Ms. Lightsey’s pension was calculated using the annual salary of approximately $57,000.
You can read TR’s investigative report about the issue and see documents here.
The pension payments originated from the deferred compensation benefit that had been in place for City Commissioners. After citizens raised questions about the practice, the Commission voted to terminate the benefit.
You can read several reports about the deferred compensation controversy here.
Ms. Meadows-Keefe, in documents provided to the Board, anticipates making a recommendation to the Board in June or July.
I hope, just for the heck of it, that not only will this unethical situation be corrected we’ll discover the genius who was able to twist the law to accommodate this theft.
WHY HAS THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSIONERS REMAINED SILENT ON THESE UNETHICAL, IF NOT ILLEGAL, PAYMENTS FOR SEVERAL YEARS.!!!!
That’s easy. Don’t want to upset the gravy train.
I can only hope and pray that the Ethics Board does the right thing and we all know what the right thing is.
The right thing right now is an investigation by Ms. Meadows-Keefe, which is already being done. Later comes an unbiased review of the evidence by the Board to determine if or any member of the city commission or staff, violated standards of ethical conduct.
Sorry I am late to comment here, but I have invested more time in this issue than about anyone with the possible exception of Erwin Jackson. There is zero doubt as to whether something unethical happened. None. The Charter dictates pay. Commissioners were given more. It was not “deferred”, it was extra money. Commissioner Lightsey, likely others, are receiving pension payments based on an inflated final years in office. The only issue is whether this is criminal. On a second level you will find no paper trail on how this ever came into existence, who came up with the arbitrary payment figures for each Commissioner and the Mayor at the time, on what basis it was ever extended to begin with. It just happened. This is one of those rare cases when the lack of public record and the Charter make this open and shut.
This situation, an allegation of misuse of public office for personal gain, appears to be exactly the type of case the citizens created the Board of Ethics to investigate. Great work by TR.