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Posted on January 10, 2017
City Commissioner Miller’s office sent Tallahassee Reports an email yesterday in response to the original story we published, which is listed below.
The email included two ethics forms (Form 8B) for two votes Ms. Miller abstained from due to a conflict with a family member. While the forms provided the identification of the family member – Miller’s brother-in law, Rich Buss – the forms did not identify the company involved in the engineering services contract conflict.
Tallahassee Reports has asked for the company name on two occasions and as of this update it has not been provided. Ethic forms filed by other City Commissioners have identified the vendor responsible for the conflict.
This is important because the engineering services contract approved for Rich Buss’ company laid the ground work for the City of Tallahassee staff to award lucrative engineering jobs to the company. These engineering jobs could have originated in a city department under the supervision of Rich Buss’ brother and Nancy Miller’s husband – John Buss.
However, without the name of the company, potential conflicts can not be investigated. Tallahassee Reports will continue to seek the identification of the engineering services company.
In addition, the email said that Commissioner Miller filed the forms with the City Clerk appropriately and that TR had not asked for the correct form in our original records request.
And while it is true there was a typo in our emailed request – 8A instead of 8B, a phone call following our request made it clear the documents we were seeking. Ultimately, TR was provided with no disclosure forms until after our report was published.
Tallahassee Reports has learned that City Commissioner Nancy Miller has ignored ethic rules that require elected officials to formally document voting conflicts.
On December 12, 2012, the City Commission voted to approve the staff’s ranking and recommendation for Civil Engineering Consulting Services. The recommendation included eight vendors and authorized staff to execute three-year (3) contracts.
City Commissioner Miller abstained from voting on the item by stating a family member was involved with one of the eight companies. Commissioner Miller never identified which company caused the conflict nor did she identify the family member.
Based on the Florida Commission on Ethics, an elected official must publicly announce the nature of his or her interest before the vote and must file a memorandum of voting conflict on Commission Form 8B with the meeting’s recording officer within 15 days after the vote occurs disclosing the nature of his or her interest in the matter.
However, a records request by TR found that Commissioner Miller did not submit Form 8B to the City Clerk.
Compounding the concern over this specific conflict is the fact that Commissioner Miller’s husband, John Buss, is a City employee in a position to have influence over the specific Consulting Service vendors who are selected for City projects.
Also, on July 13, 2016 the City Commission voted 3-1 to approve acceptance of an easement agreement between the City of Tallahassee and Frenchtown Square Partners, LLC, as part of the Casanas Village at Frenchtown Square project.
Once again, City Commissioner Miller abstained by stating a family member is a subcontractor on the project. And again, Commissioner Miller failed to name the sub-contractor and did not file the required Form 8B with the City Clerk.
Tallahassee Reports has requested detailed information about the votes and the specific contractors that resulted in the voting conflicts.