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.