On Tuesday October 15th, the Independent Ethics Board will hold their monthly meeting, but it appears the main topic of conversation surrounding the meeting is not on the meeting agenda: the fate of the Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe.
However, TR has been told that a number of speakers will attend the meeting and make the case that Meadows-Keefe must be immediately removed during the public comment section of the agenda.
Since last week when the Citizens for Responsible Spending (CRS) held a press conference offering support for ethics reform and demanding the Ethics Officer be removed, the behind the scenes calls for her removal have increased.
In a press release, CRS stated we “believe that the City Ethics Officer, who has admitted unsavory behavior not worthy of the high bar expected of a City Ethics Officer, needs to leave immediately, not in February 2020. The fact that no action has been taken since her actions have become publicly known is utterly unacceptable.”
The Citizens for Ethics Reform, the group that helped create the Ethics Board and monitors the Board’s meetings, is also expected to call for her removal at the meeting.
In addition, certain city officials have indicated, off the record, that her continued presence as the Ethics Officer – despite her plan to resign early next year – is counterproductive at a time when the focus needs to be on crafting an new ethics ordinance.
The call for her removal is based a number of issues.
First, it has been reported that Meadows-Keefe has had a personal relationship with a high ranking city official over a year ago. An official that she had jurisdiction over as the Ethics Officer.
Some officials in City Hall are frustrated that Board has allowed her to remain given the relationship. TR has been told that the existence of the relationship is common knowledge among city employees and reflects poorly on the operation of the Board.
More frustrating for the Citizens for Ethics Reform is that it appears that no one on the Ethics Board has asked Meadows-Keefe about the relationship.
Second, Ms. Meadows-Keefe was recently involved with the job search for a new General Counsel for the Board and failed to disclose a recent financial relationship with one of the candidates. That candidate went on to be hired.
Third, TR reported last week that the Ethics Office spent over $1,200 on yearly memberships to the Capital Tiger Bay – a political group – for Meadows-Keefe. Richard Herring, the Chairman of the Ethics Board, told TR the issue would be addressed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Despite these issues, there has been no public talk by the Ethics Board members about her removal. And this, says Dr. Erwin Jackson, is a major problem.
“The City Commission is being asked to give increased power to a Board that can levy thousands of dollars in fines and hold binding votes on ethics charges, yet they have not demonstrated the most basic management of their own affairs. I do not blame city officials for their concerns, hell, I’m concerned,” said Dr. Jackson.
Jackson plans on asking for a public vote on Tuesday by Board members to remove Meadows-Keefe. “It’s time to get everyone on the record with regards to this Ethics Officer,” said Jackson.