Thursday, December 30, 2010

Broward County Inspector General, Will it Work?

On tap in 2011:
A new anti-corruption inspector general for Broward

By Brittany Wallman
December 30, 2010 08:00 AM

"One of the milestones in the public corruption saga that plagued Broward County this year is the hiring of a new ethics watchdog, an inspector general.

Broward voters approved in November the concept of an inspector general who watches over all city officials in Broward, the government employees and the county
Read the rest of the article here:"

I have some questions about how this will work, and if it will be worth the money the new inspector general’s office will cost the taxpayers. The charter provision states:

“After completing his or her investigation and determining that there is probable cause to believe misconduct has occurred, the Inspector General shall notify the appropriate civil, criminal, or administrative agencies charged with enforcement related to the alleged misconduct.”
That’s it, NOTIFY THE APPROPRIATE AGENCY!!! It comes to mind that the "appropriate" agencies should be taking care of business and should be uncovering the "misconduct" without needing outside help.

Now we are going to have an entire office doing the jobs of the "civil, criminal or administrative agencies" that are being paid already to ferret out miscreants; does the word redundant come to mind?

OK, I realize that those “agencies” are not famous for bringing elected officials, or much of anyone to justice, after all it did take the FBI to start the ball rolling recently, but who is to say that a new guy/gal won’t also start worrying about stepping on certain powerful feet.

AND, after a referral is made, then what, will it be business as usual, years of half-assed investigations which result in nothing, or at best a slap on the wrist? If so, we will have a new “agency” that costs tons of money and goes nowhere.

Are we expecting hoards of residents to rush forward with complaints for the Inspector General to investigate? Don’t hold your breath. There will be no whispering in the ear of the inspector anonymously.

Our Commissioners changed the original wording and we now have a provision that if a person wants to make a complaint, the charter section says:

“…a complaint may only serve as a basis for a good cause finding if it is signed by an identified person who verifies the contents of the complaint by including the following statement: "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing complaint and that based on my personal knowledge the facts stated in it are true."

“In any case in which the Inspector General determines that a person has filed a complaint with a malicious intent to injure an Official's, Employee's, or Provider's reputation with baseless, spurious, or false accusations, or with a reckless disregard for the truth of the allegations, the complainant shall be liable for all costs incurred by the Inspector General in the investigation of the complaint.”
If you want to make a complaint to those civil or criminal “agencies” you don’t have to live in fear that you will have to pay all the court costs of the investigation, I think you just make a complaint and let the States Attorney, for example, carry out an investigation, if it comes to nothing, no harm no foul; and no fear for you that you will be held responsible for the whole cost of the investigation. And, I think that you can do some ear whispering to point them in the right direction without even signing anything.

Not so with our new IG, I wouldn’t trust that something that I SAY I know is a fact won’t wind up in court with an allegation that I am lying.

I love the idea that not only our elected officials but everyone doing business with government will be under more scrutiny. I love the idea that we will have more Gallaghers, Chaits, and Eggelletions being convicted, and I hope the new IG will find who is responsible for the rampant fraud, bribery, back room deals etc. in Broward County. I will wait and watch to see what happens.

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