Ethics Board to Refer Fernandez Complaint to Florida Commission on Ethics

Ethics Board to Refer Fernandez Complaint to Florida Commission on Ethics

In a bold move, the City of Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board decided Tuesday night that an anonymous complaint involving city manager Rick Fernandez will be referred to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The decision comes after the full City Commission has repeatedly ignored the Board’s request for more authority to address similar complaints. The decision was reached after reviewing the facts of the complaint in a private meeting with the Ethics Board and staff.

This is the first time the Board has referred a complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics. TR was told that a complaint will be drafted by Board staff and signed by the Board Chairman, Richard Herring.

The original complaint was based on a TR story documenting a $4,700 catering discount to a family member of city manager Rick Fernandez by the Edison Restaurant. The Edison Restaurant has a contract with the City of Tallahassee.

Documentation obtained by TR showed that the “salesperson” for the catering event, Eddie Kring, was eventually hired by the City of Tallahassee without publicly advertising the position. TR confirmed that Fernandez was aware of the hire.

The Independent Ethics Board was created by a charter amendment that was adopted with almost 70% of the vote in 2014. The purpose of the Board was to avoid the Florida Commission on Ethics by creating a city ethics code with an independent enforcement board.

However, the City Commission, after a formal request, failed to adopt a city ordinance that would give the Ethics Board the proper authority.

20 Responses to "Ethics Board to Refer Fernandez Complaint to Florida Commission on Ethics"

  1. I know this has nothing to do with ethics, but under Rick’s and Andrew’s leadership. what has the city done to address the problems we all had with Hurricane Hermine? Why aren’t we coming up with a plan to prioritize burying powerlines under the medians of the major roads serving the major population areas of the city? Certainly we can do this; the capital city of the state should not be knocked out of operation by basically a tropical storm.

  2. The Schweers article in the Democrat said the “focus of the ethics complaint” was a “wedding discount”, in quotes. The TR documentation called it an “owner discount”. Is there conflicting documentation or is Schweers being somewhat less than honest?

  3. According to the ethics officer the complaint was submitted with a copy of Tallahassee Reports documenting the case. Nice job, TR!

  4. I am stunned they took this action, I just figured they would look the other way like they have so many times in the past. Perhaps, they figured this would quiet the critics, but going with what Old Cop said, it is sad we have to celebrate them referring a case to someone else. I was extremely supportive of the ballot initiative when it was proposed and after a couple of years have been extremely critical of the ethics board and wanted to repeal the ballot initiative because I think it is a waste of taxpayer’s money since they have only investigated 2 complaints (and now referred 1 to another ethics group) in 2 years. If they start doing something I might begin to support them again. At least this is a start…

  5. It’s a pretty sad statement on the city ethics board when referring a case to another agency is considered to be an accomplishment.

  6. Reports that the city is considering a second round of layoffs – this time unfortantly consisting of the entire ethics board – remain unconfirmed at this time.

  7. Critics of the city have so many valid complaints to file. We have commissioners handing contracts to their brother in-laws and forcing procurement officers to hire Gary Yordon, a clear violation of the city charter. We have other commissioners on record breaking the law.

    But honestly, this looks frivolous and will likely be thrown out. I would suggest that a smarter approach would be to more strategically file complaints. Otherwise, the story is “gadflies lose again”

    1. You are so right, Steven! Gee, one little FBI investigation and all of a sudden some folks at city hall are now attempting to look like they’re actually being ethical! However, it’s too little, too late for you downtown folks.

  8. I suggest that the city manager, the mayor and all on the city commission go and sit in on the ethics class that all City of Tallahassee employees are required to take. These flakes should hold themselves to a higher standard to set the example.

    1. The city ethics board decided it was not going to hold itself to a higher standard when it declined to approve a proposed Pledge of No Conflict for its members.

    1. BoooYaaah Fernandez !!!!! You can hurry up and call your buddy buddy pal Harold Knowles Esquire for some legal advice.
      Hurry up now little man before Harold gets thrown in prison and his Florida Bar card revoked.
      Oh and good morning Mr. Fernandez.

    2. There is one member of the ethics board who has the primary function of protecting city commissioners, especially the mayor. Surely the other members are aware of that.

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