“Ethics is Fluff” That is what Deerfield Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier said during a discussion about awarding the Deerfield Beach Historical Society a $50,000 grant. She has often said that ethics and the sunshine law get in her way, but this time the pesky ethics code and the new city rules initiated by Bill Ganz to track where donated money goes really annoyed her. She misunderstood a letter she received from the Historical Society and thought they were protesting opening their books and accounts to the city as required for the grant. She said the city should come up with another way to help them if they didn’t want to comply. She said, “This ethics…it don’t make sense…it’s fluff”.
In fact, the Historical Society had complied with all the requirements and submitted all needed paperwork and was in tip top shape to receive the city grant. A fact that was abundantly clear to any commissioner who bothered to read the backup material they each get prior to all commission meetings. Sylvia was chafing against the rules that, if they had been in place years ago, would have prevented the city having to hire forensic investigator, Michael Kessler.
Kessler is investigating past grants awarded by the city and is having trouble with the Westside Deerfield Businessmen Association, who received funding through the CDBG program and the Arlington Family Association also a grant recipient. Both have been, to put it mildly, dragging their feet getting Kessler required financial records. City Attorney Andy Maurodis was so frustrated that he asked the commission for permission to bring suit against the organizations if they don’t comply soon. If the current rules were in place when the WDBA and Arlington Family applied for the grant, there would have had to supply the documents up front.
A public relations firm, TransMedia Group of Boca Raton has a novel idea; they are urging the creation of ethics courses and programs at local universities. They mention that there has been a “corruption cloud since 2006”.
They suggest that some officials might need “Ethics Rehab”. "Just like drug addicts court ordered to a rehab program, ethics offenders should be required to enter an 'Ethics Rehab' facility," said Tom Madden, the firm's chief executive officer. “"Just like lawyers and real estate agents, public officials need to take refresher courses in ethics.”
Hmmmm, can you think of anyone who might need a refresher course or remedial ethics?