Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Too hard to just say no?

The next Deerfield Beach Ethics Committee meeting is on December 10th, 5pm in City Hall. At the last meeting lots of time again, was spent on how much money a commissioner could take legally from someone doing business with the city. The current code says none. However committee members think that is too restrictive. Apparently it is too hard for our commissioners to just say no to a free glass of wine or cup of coffee. I guess it would be a hardship for the commissioners to attend a, for example, developer sponsored party, perhaps on a yacht, perhaps in a hotel, or wherever, and not have some of the free shrimp. Some committee members think up to $50, some want $10 or $25, I still lean to none.

I do think that they should be able to go to an event in their district for free. They are expected to show up at events even if they don’t want to. It is an unwritten expectation of the job. And the solution for that was discussed, the tickets could be given to the city, and the city could dole them out to the commissioners if they wanted to go. Nothing directly to the commissioner and no expectation of quid pro quo by the sponsor of the event.

Are the commissioners special, should they have things given to them just because they are commissioners? Some things, like tickets to city events, yes. But dinners, special hotel rates, new kitchen renovations, money in a golf bag, even a cup of coffee, NO. Because you know very well, that they would not be getting the offer if they were you or me. A good smell test for city workers accepting anything, is keeping the criterion: accept nothing if it gives the appearance that it might be unethical in mind. And, in my opinion there is nothing ethical in accepting gifts of any kind from someone who wants to do business with the city. Ask yourself, commissioner, would Joe six-pack get this, if not, just say no; easy.

AND, some advice commissioners, know the code. The mayor complained about not being allowed to do certain things that were allowed, but she didn’t know it. She is against a code that she doesn’t understand or know. Duh. Of course it is hard to abide by rules you don’t know. That is why we have to take a test to get a drivers’ license. OK bad example. But you get the idea. Commissioners are PAID; there are some things, like understanding the Florida State and local ethics codes that go with the job.

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