The Tallahassee Ethics Advisory Panel is preparing to deliver its recommendations to the City’s Commissioners.
There was a motivating event in Tallahassee that prompted the creation of the panel, but it appears public corruption in Florida is common.
According to Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group, there were more public corruption convictions in Florida between 2000 and 2010 than in any other state in the country. These cases didn’t come from Tallahassee, but city officials decided to get ahead of the issue.
Ben Wilcox of Integrity Florida said the Panel’s work has been very successful.
“The Ethics Advisory Panel has done a great job. They’ve met a number of times over the past several months. They’ve made some very good recommendations for the City Commission to consider. And I think implementation of those recommendations will go a long way toward creating an ethical culture in city government,” Wilcox said.
Martha Barnett, Chair of the City’s Ethics Advisory Panel described the Panel’s approach in constructive terms.
“We wanted to assess where we were, reaffirm the policies, or say this is good, but you ought to think about adding or enhancing it,” Barnett said.
One suggestion they are offering is the creation of an Ethics Officer. This official would advise City Commissioners, and be part of the City’s staff of senior level appointees.
Critics question whether the officer can remain independent as an appointee, but agree the post would be beneficial. The panel will offer its recommendations at the regular City Commission meeting on July 10th.