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Corruption County: McAuliffe urges school board, munis to join in ethics reform

by George Bennett | October 28th, 2009

State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and Palm Beach County commissioners today urged the school board and local governments to put themselves under the scrutiny of a proposed corruption-fighting inspector general.

School board Chairman Bill Graham said the school board is “conceptually on board” but wants to examine details.

The discussion came as county commissioners, school board members, state lawmakers and municipal officials held a joint meeting.

With five elected officials jailed on federal charges since 2006, County Commissioner Burt Aaronson said local politicians will feel the wrath of voters if they don’t approve reforms.

“If anybody says ‘No, we don’t want to do it,’ your constituents are going to tell you you’d better do it because there’s another election coming up. And anybody that doesn’t want to join in possibly won’t be an elected official the next time around.”

A grand jury convened by McAuliffe this year recommended tougher ethics laws, an independent ethics commission and an inspector general.

County commissioners are expected to approve ethics changes next month covering themselves and county government employees, contractors and lobbyists.

Commissioners also plan to put a question on the November 2010 ballot asking voters to enshrine the changes in the county charter. The county charter doesn’t cover the school board, however, so McAuliffe and commissioners want the school board to voluntarily agree to be covered by the ethics changes.

McAuliffe endorsed the reforms drafted by Palm Beach County officials and said the school board and cities should also agree to them.

“I want to extend not only an invitation but a recommendation that you start engaging the process and plan to become a part of the ethics reform,” McAuliffe said.

Municipal governments may not have a choice if voters approve a countywide ethics referendum. Under a voter-approved county law, a city or town would be required to come under a county charter change if the majority of voters in that municipality vote for the change.

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4 Responses to “Corruption County: McAuliffe urges school board, munis to join in ethics reform”

  1. What a joke Says:

    What a crock this new inspector gadget crime fighting thing we got going on in here.Would you like to be under scrutiny?Wel ,we’ll just have to think about it and we’ll get back to you on that one.

  2. Realitycheck Says:

    Ugh… Isn’t there going to be a shortfall of over a $100 million for the following year in this county? These politicians always talk about spending other peoples’ money like there is some endless source. Why don’t these politicians start taking out of their own pockets or take out additional mortgages on their homes if they really want to start these new programs that are essentially all bark, but NO bite!

  3. EdFulop Says:

    I felt that way too when I first heard about it, but if you do some research, you’ll see that we can’t afford to not have an independent Inspector General. In Dade County, the office found enough fraud in it’s first year to fund it for the next 20. There are 4 commissioners either currently in, or recently released from “Club Fed”. The only way it can be stopped is if we remain vigilant voters, and we have someone on our side on the inside. Please visit this site below and sign our petition for a truly 100% independent Inspector General.

    http://igpetition.southflorida912.org

  4. Everett Wilkinson Says:

    http://www.southfloridateaparty.org

    In July of 2009, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) decided to adopt the recommendations of a grand jury convened by State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, to examine county corruption and prescribe reforms. The grand jury report noted the local “Corruption County” reputation and called for an Office of Inspector General and a Commission on Ethics modeled after entities in Miami-Dade County. Work was started on the ordinances required, with a target date of December 15, 2009 for a final vote on implementation.

    On Friday, October 23, the BCC were provided with the first draft of the documents. A group of concerned citizens convened to examine the documents. The first meeting was held on Monday, October 26, and the conclusion of the group was that there is not sufficient independence provided for the Inspector General to be able to function properly as a watchdog. Consequently, the team decided to move forward with some amendment proposals, and begin a project of raising the public awareness to the content of the documents.

    One of the tools of this project is a public petition, calling on the BCC to allow for sufficient independence of the Inspector General in the pending ordinance. This site provides the petition in electronic form, as well as a means to print a hardcopy if one would prefer to mail or hand deliver it to the commission.

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