Instead of waiting around for indictments, it is time for local leaders and interested parties to begin to form an outline of what changes are needed to address the ethical challenges that face local government.
Without rehashing the ethical lapses over the last several years, the are number of simple changes that would address current conflicts of interest.
Here are two.
First, no Leon County or City of Tallahassee elected official or employee (that must file financial disclosure form with the Florida Commission on Ethics) shall do business, directly or indirectly, with a local government vendor when the transaction exceeds $2,500 over a 12-month period.
In addition, any transaction by a governmental official below the $2,500 threshold must be publicly acknowledged and approved by the elected officials.
The current state law allows officials to argue fair market value and competitive pricing. These arguments allow officials to cloud the issue and argue reasonable doubt while still engaging in a business transaction that can provide the perception of a conflict.
The straight forward language proposed here will end these ambiguous arguments and place the desired approach of “avoiding any perception of a conflict” above the private interest of local officials.
Second, any business or individual that receives more than a $2,500 in payments for consulting or campaign management services, directly or indirectly, from a local government candidate during an election cycle shall be prohibited from proving services for any local government entity for four years after the payment from the candidate.
The number of transactions between campaign consultants and local governments is staggering. In addition, the current situation puts public employees in a no-win situation when dealing with a bidding process that involves vendors that are favored by elected officials.
Why is it that campaign consultants like Vancore Jones, Sean Pittman, and Gary Yordon have all received lucrative no bid contracts with local government?
This needs to end. You are either a campaign consultant or you are a city vendor – you can’t be both.
These two changes would go a long way in placing public service above private interests.
Over the next four weeks Tallahassee Reports will ask each locally elected official their position on these two polices.
You know the real problem is the existence of lobbyists that undermine our democratic process. They have far more access to elected officials than the average citizen, and have the ability to wield power and influence.
Look at the recent Florida Trend article. The Orlando City Attorney still is a manager at a powerful law firm. Can people really make unbiased decisions and avoid conflicts of interest?
Let’s work to ban lobbyists. No more texting elected officials. No more conference calls with two or more elected officials. Lobbyists like to say they are needed in order to provide information and expertise to elected officials. But guess what, that’s what the staff is supposed to do for an office holder. And with the internet, we have access to all kinds of info.
Why is the amount of the donation the issue? As one recent news article pointed out, donations paid by LLC’s can hide massive donations. It ought to be that people who sell to governments, or who are government employees whose job can be changed by the elected person (true for schools, not supposed to be true for the city where the commissioners are forbidden from meddling in personnel decisions) cannot be receive a vendor contract, or a raise while the person they donated to remains in office. It is those vendors that fund much if not most of the candidates, and therefore which have influence with the elected officials that interferes both with identifying the best work for the value, and holding vendors accountable for less that good results. And I’ve heard from plenty of school district employees that they felt compelled to not just donate to a campaign, but not to donate to others.
Great post! The only individuals who would protest such a common sense approach to reform are Maddox, Richardson, Gillum, Miller, and Ziffer. I challenge any of them to put these suggestions on the agenda, vote for passage,and prove me wrong.
Great article Mr. Stewart. These are the positive planks to a campaign platform any aspiring honest politicians out there considering running for office should stand on.
Unfortunately as our local Tallahassee City Government now exists it seems we must elect a full time honest mirror government to keep our dirty existing government in check.
Of course we can not afford to do that which is why we are hopeful for some strong indictments followed up with harsh punishment which includes real Federal prison time for our corrupt “usual suspect” local darlings.
Clearly, the FBI should subpoena Gabordi’s emails going back 5 years too.
The e-mails if there are any will surface in the recent subpoena.
Wonder who the “source” was for the FBI, Maddox, Las Vegas pic? Let’s see…copy of pic sent to Maddox, Maddox sent it to Yordon, Yordon sent it to the TD…hence the TD’s stool pigeon…er, source?
“Why is it that campaign consultants like Vancore Jones, Sean Pittman, and Gary Yordon have all received lucrative no bid contracts with local government?”
Also, the criminal suspects (formerly the Usual Suspects) are in collusion with the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce to receive payment for gigs, special PR promos, etc.– to advance their clients and their clients who are elected officials to get their clients rings kissed by the chamber. The Tallahassee Chamber runs this like an organized crime organization for the sake of Yordon, Pittman, Maddox, their clients and their clients who are elected officials.
Rather than the TD questioning it they participate in it, promote it, endorse it, and attend it. But, what would you expect when Gabordi is in a bromance with Scott Maddox and the county reporter is doing video coverage of Gary Yordon making a Caesar salad as a news story rather than at the time covering the Joint Dispatch Center when it was not functioning?
This is how corruption is able to thrive!
I saw Yordon once again had his special commentary or whatever it is in the Tallahassee Democrat this past Sunday. Either the Tallahassee Democrat is tone deaf, complicit, or has a contract with Yordon to write this very silly column.
They ran a front page story on JT Burnette and 311 E. Jennings complete with pictures of some people under FBI scrutiny/subpoena, but no picture of Gary Yordon with this report.
How can you feature someone prominently who has been named in FBI subpoenas? Is the Tallahassee Democrat to be subpoenaed next?
Hey look!!! Kitty Litter!!!
Thomas: Did you see the other Op/Ed above Yordon’s? Written by a Burneice Cox?
That’s Gary’s wife.