At a press conference on Friday, City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow addressed the sentencing of former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and made what he called “six common-sense reforms” related to local government ethics.
Matlow said that “yesterday’s sentencing of former Mayor and City Commissioner Scott Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority Director Paige Carter-Smith on public corruption charges marks a milestone in the history of Tallahassee City Government.”
Matlow noted that end of the public corruption trial is only the beginning for those of us who fight for progress and justice in Tallahassee.
Based on a public ethics forum held last week and attended by public corruption experts, law professors, and concerned citizens, Matlow proposed six reforms.
These reforms include:
- Closing the lobbyist loophole. We should adopt the Independent Ethics Board’s recommendations to expand the definition of lobbying to include anyone who is compensated by a private interest to influence government policy. Public officials should keep contact logs from meetings with lobbyists and all agendas should disclose who registered to lobby on each item.
- Expanding Whistleblower protections. All Employees should feel protected and safe coming forward with information. The Ethics Board should be empowered to field complaints from public employees and others who have knowledge of wrongdoing.
- Ending no-bid contracts. Competitive-bidding is the hallmark of good public policy. Requiring two public hearings to sell off public land can help repair the City’s reputation for favoritism in development decisions, and safeguard taxpayer dollars to ensure the people are always getting a fair deal when it comes to land we as a community own.
- Banning for life anyone convicted of Honest Services Fraud.
- A complete audit of all contracts, policies, and personnel decisions influenced by former Commissioner Maddox. We know for a fact, as reported in the Democrat, that major public agency heads were swapped out like a game by big-money lobbyists and corrupt elected officials. Companies making payments to former Commissioner Maddox continue to receive public contracts. There is no reason we cannot revisit those decisions — and to truly restore the public trust, we must.
- A vendor Code of Ethics. Entities that receive public funding must be held to a high ethical standard. Any vendors found to use an unregistered lobbyist should forfeit any right to taxpayer dollars.
Matlow said that the proposals will be discussed at an upcoming Town Hall on this topic via Zoom on October 6 at 6 pm.
Matow concluded his remarks by saying that the “dark cloud of corruption that had enveloped Tallahassee for an entire era in local government is finally lifting. We hope you will join us in forging a brighter day at City Hall — towards a city that truly works for everyone.”