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Report says Palm Beach and other counties setting pace for ethics reform

by John Kennedy | November 29th, 2012

Palm Beach and other counties looking to shed a dark history of corruption are setting a pace for reform that could be modeled by other governments and state officials, advocacy organizations said Thursday.

Integrity Florida and the Leroy Collins Institute released a report which showed a majority of Florida’s 45 counties surveyed require ethics training for elected officials, regulate contracting practices, and restrict gifts from lobbyists to officials. Most also have designated a county point person for ethics issues, the report found.

“In many of these instances, these reforms did follow corruption,” said Carol Weissert, director of the Collins Institute. “But I think what we’re seeing counties where they’re not having corruption and they’re still trying to make these changes.”

Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, said some county officials acknowledge the stricter oversight measures enacted locally were prompted by an absence of tough state ethics laws.

“City and county governments can go further than the state, but they can’t be weaker than what the state requires,” Krassner said.

He said the survey of local standards can be a guide for Florida’s new legislative leaders, who have spoken of toughening standards state officials must meet. Both House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, have created new ethics committees expected to propose measures for next year’s Legislature.

The survey listed Palm Beach County as a model for many. The county created its own ethics commission in 2010, enacted a tougher ethics code a year later and hired an inspector general empowered to look for fraud and abuse in the county.

Palm Beach’s reforms were hard earned. The county was branded the “Capital of Florida Corruption,” in 2009 by Time magazine and saw four county commissioners convicted of corruption charges and a pair of West Palm Beach city commissioners sent to prison for felonies over a five-year period.

 

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6 Responses to “Report says Palm Beach and other counties setting pace for ethics reform”

  1. Bob Says:

    Are you kidding? You are so out of touch with reality it’s shocking. The Ethics Commission is inconsistent. The State Attorney focuses on a select few. The APWA holds monthly meetings, based on contractors bringing gifts for municpality workers. The Ethics Commission and the Inpsector General could not care less. The SA Public Integrity Unit is virtually silent. Creating a new ethics video once a year does not make for an effective policy. Daily violations of unethical behavior are rampant and there are no organizations within the County that respond to complaints.

  2. Had Enough Says:

    the city of WPB started a lawsuit, and has been joined by other cities against the inspector general, that the IG budget has been severely cut as to slow investigations. No budget, no employees.As far as the Ethics Committee you only have to ask for a copy of two CD of kimberly mitchell investigation concerning Comcast to know she absolutely abused her power, and then the city commission gives her $7,000.00 she supposidly paid an attorney. She screws the taxpayers, and makes us pay for the privledge.

  3. DDW Says:

    “The survey listed Palm Beach County as a model for many.”
    This is a new low in low.This state would be better off with guidelines on how to take gifts and bribes then to try and convince the public that there is such a thing as ethics in Corruption County and or any of the many state agencies that redistribute monies at a alarming and amazing rate.
    Right here in P.B. County there has been Three different County Commissioners (I know the article says four. But that was not the case for Mr. Koons.His crime was being drunk and stupid.)that went to prison for bribery at the behest of the Federal Prosecutor. But yet not single soul was even indicted for being the briber.
    If this is supposed to be the warm and fuzzy feeling time, it does not, it feels more like a stomach ulcer.
    Some times I think it would be easier trying to find a virgin in a porn movie then to find a politician with ethics. What is sad is the few bad apples that make the rest of the barrel look bad.

  4. Toni Says:

    Corruption will never be under control in Palm Beach County until the Ethics Commission and the Inspector’s Office covers the ethically challenged Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

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