Matlow: The way “Tallahassee Governs is Broken”

Matlow: The way “Tallahassee Governs is Broken”

On Thursday, City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow held a public forum on ethics at the Leroy Collins Leon County Library. The forum’s goal was to generate conversation about rebuilding the public’s trust and faith in Tallahassee’s local government, following the recent federal corruption trial which finished last month.

In attendance and to help facilitate discussion was; Florida State University Professor Richard Herring, who was the former Chair of the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board, Professor Robert Atkinson, a noted scholar on legal ethics, Ben Wilcox, the Research Director at Integrity Florida, and Catharine Baer from a local watchdog group, citizens for ethical reform.

After introductions, Matlow began the forum by asking, “what is the real impact on our community when these ethic rules are violated?”

Wilcox responded that these violations “cause people to lose trust in local government,” that the ramifications trickle down the line, consider economic development, the goal is to attract businesses to the community. Still, no company wants to be under a corrupt government. “There is a black eye on this community which will take years to recover from,” said Wilcox.

When the conversation turned to lobbying, Matlow stated more transparency is needed and gave an example of an elected official keeping a record when approached by a lobbyist. He also suggested the possibility of penalties for vendors who hire lobbyists that are not registered.

The group discussed the recommendations by Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board to strengthen the city’s lobbying ordinance. The four suggestions which are currently in front of the Tallahassee City Commission are:

  • To update the definition of lobbying and lobbyist to eliminate ambiguity.
  • To require lobbyists to include the name, title, and ordinance they wish to discuss with elected officials and mandates contact logs.
  • To mirror state law that bans lobbyists from being paid on a contingency basis.
  • Requiring that quarterly compensation reports are available on a public website.

The discussion addressed whistleblowers, their protection and possible incentives for people coming forward who have knowledge of questionable actions. For example, a financial incentive could be offered to city or county employees who make the public or authorities aware of any wrongdoing by elected officials or government.

Matlow wrapped up the meeting by clarifying that his goal is to continue these kinds of free-form engagements with the public to maintain transparency. He said recorded sessions will show how he and hopefully other commissioners come to their conclusions and proposals brought to the committee.

Matlow voiced concern about how big items get pushed through with little discussion and he said the “fundamental way Tallahassee governs is broken.”

Matlow also said he wants to work more closely with the Leon County Commission to achieve a shared vision of ethics reform.

12 Responses to "Matlow: The way “Tallahassee Governs is Broken”"

  1. Wow, the above comment above, are some clear-eye thinking! But,
    This comment: lwhistleblowers, their protection and possible incentives for people coming forward who have knowledge of questionable actions.”

    “Who is suppose to PROVIDE the protection? I personally exposed “including in Emails, unethical business, and “millions gone missing”, and in the end, I was walked out the door!
    When I pressed the FDLE (who supposedly produced a six-thousand page Report concerning the missing millions) – they “Blew me off”! And when I pressed further with a Certified Letter requesting the 10- pages before and the 10 pages after my name in that Report, they said they would have to give it their lawyers first to review my request. Then eventually >sent me a letter saying I……me, I was not in trouble for anything! Go figure!
    Note: I was the one feeding Documents forward to senior management showing what amounted to embezzlement of Public Funds through subcontractors, and or raising the cost of goods by 300%, then Taxing that inflated cost to themselves! And we were a City owned Utility that was Tax Exempt! I even sent Emails, with screen shots showing for the exact same Product / Service a sister city, paid (0) zero taxes, just to prove my point!

    And, I never got my 20 pages from FDLE, and my attempts to get “any purchases on this corruption by contacting the FBI was even a “Bigger Joke”, considering millions of dollars left not only the State of Florida, but a million left the Country to a subcontractor, that did not even have a “Legally approved contract” to do business with our Government entity. And to add insult to injury, $100’s of thousands were being mailed (sometimes in over might mail) to this City owned Public Utility’s Sister-in-Laws personal home in another State! The very business that it’s website had the CEO’s “home address as the owner of the website!
    Remember; I was walked out the door. Lost my job, Health insurance, and the optics surely couldn’t have been good in my community!
    The FBI – I contacted (3) three different offices while “unemployed”, right, I had the time! They stone-walled me, and never, ever once, agreed to look at all the Documents I have! Go figure!
    It was a case of “Confirmation Bias”! They had a pre ice Ed outcome, then wrote six-thousand pages of bullshit to come to their conclusion!
    They had No intention of coming down on a Government entity.
    FBI said, “we will contact you if we need you.” Lol, they never, ever saw my Documents! I only sent them “one” to show legitimacy, yet it got “zero response? NOTE: If I had said the millions gone missing was a doctor, hospital, and “Medicare Funds”, and army of Fed’s would be kicking doors down. But this was Government scamming Millions of the Tax Payers money! Not one person was held accountable!
    So good luck, on putting “teeth” into an Ethics committee!

  2. Commissioner Matlow, if You (or any other Commissioners, City & County) want to do Town Halls, PLEASE do them after 5:30 Week Days and Afternoons on Saturdays so we can attend and please stop with the Zooms.

  3. You want me to take this dog-and-pony show seriously? Start by firing all of the city executives that were hired at ridiculous salaries to do the bidding of the corrupt commissioners.

    And while you’re at it, add some bite to the ethics commission. A toothless “advisory” panel is worthless when they have to report to the very same people they’re reporting about.

  4. So does anyone else see the folly in trying to stop corruption and restore ethics in our elected officials by regulating lobbyist? You do know that if a lobbyist suggests that the elected official do something that is not legal the elected official can say “no, I am not going to do that”.. you do know that….right? Lobbyist do not make elected officials corrupt. Elected officials choose to be corrupt. To think making lobbyist write down what they are going to talk to the elected official about will make the elected official “do right” displays a level of ignorance on an epic level. If you want elected officials to do right then elect officials who have a proven record of doing right in their businesses, profession and church. Do not elect people who are inexperienced decision makers and dependent on the salary of the office of the office they seek. Being a city or county commissioner or school board member is not for beginners and until we elect quality people and stop blaming lobbyist we will continue to see corruption in or local government.

  5. @ Tango 147: I too would have Blocked it. It was a Corrupt Project from the get go. If I remember correctly, it was going to be built by the City and GIVEN to a Company to run. A Parking Garage was not and will not be needed right there. No one would have paid to park there. The Pot Place closed up long ago.

  6. Is this the guy who blocked the parking garage in Midtown to support a “master plan” and then the property was sold to a cannabis distributor right across the street from his pizza place?

    Seems like a great plan.

  7. The fact that Matlow was the only city commissioner at the meeting proves his point. The way our city does business was designed and is maintained by the commissioners that didn’t attend, because they love a rigged game.

    Our city and county is run by a corrupt cabal of quislings and anyone in business here knows it.

    What a disgraceful bunch of pukes…

  8. ~ “There is a black eye on this community which will take years to recover from,” said Wilcox.

    I would submit that it is more than a simple black eye… (think Evander Holyfield’s ear after a Mike Tyson hunger rage) The entire City bureaucratic class is and has fostered a corrupt and exploitation environment. And may I also suggest that it doesn’t have to take “years to recover from”… but it does take firm stones, a conviction to ones’ values, and a level of intestinal fortitude that’s surpasses that of a mother choosing a no drugs natural child birth… of quadruplets. A comrade or two of like characteristics and the honorable conviction of Public Service wouldn’t hurt either.

    I applaud Matlow’s gumption on this front… and I encourage him to remain focused on the government entity side of this. For I shall ask it again; “Which is worse… the private entity who offers the bribe … or the Public entity that takes it?” One side may indeed be guilty of the intent, but only the other side can codify the success of the mission.

    … it has to stop sometime; somewhere…

  9. This is one of the best things I’ve seen in this community in a long, long time. An impressive panel and good leadership.

    It gives me hope…

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