This is a follow-up to my post of last Thursday, August 5, 2010
Broward County Comm. Ilene Lieberman is the creepy anti-ethics monster that just won't die. She's the 'Mummy' of Broward County!
You know what they say, if a horror mask fits...
After all the insider talk for a week about what's going to happen Tuesday afternoon on Andrews Avenue at the Broward County Commission meeting at 2 p.m., it's finally time for everyone who's anyone to stand up and be counted and be held publicly accountable.
If it was up to me, of course, I'd love to see a few local high-profile folks in particular show up and say what they personally think about the proposals, so that it's all out there for voters to see, since South Florida pols are notorious for ducking high-profile showdowns on issues like this, even the reformist candidates.
I'll leave it to you readers to figure out why I'd like to see them, but if you are a fairly regular visitor to this space, you probably already have a pretty good hunch why: Chris Smith, Steve Geller, Dan Gelber, Dave Aronberg, Kelly Skidmore, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Ari Porth.
Will any Hispanic or African-American Broward residents speak during public comments, whether high-profile or not? Hmm-m-m... that's a very good question.
Sadly, probably not.
Hey, isn't THAT a news story?
Yes, in other parts of the country, but here in polyglot South Florida, such politically and socially uncomfortable stories like THAT usually never see the light of day.
The afternoon agenda and back up documents are here:
For those of you unable to get away to downtown Fort Lauderdale to watch the rhetoric and metaphors fly at the three-ring circus, you can watch it LIVE via the Internet but you must use Internet Explorer, as I learned the hard way last year, to my chagrin when using Firefox, with predictable results.
Why IE, I can't say, but that's the deal.
Villains of ethics reform in Broward dream up new strategy
By Fred Grimm
August 8, 2010
You've got to appreciate the brazen hand behind this latest attempt to eviscerate ethics reform in Broward County. Same way you watch, with perverse fascination, horror movie villains creeping back from oblivion to wreak more mayhem.
In June, a mighty burst of public outrage cowed the sinister forces behind a contrivance to kill reform. Rather than vote an ethics package up or down, the novel strategy would have shipped the proposed ordinance off to the black hole of judicial review, leaving it to languish until after the fall elections.
The notion dripped with contempt for public sentiment. As if commissioners could ignore the county's spate of scandals and indictments and guilty pleas. Or the federal and state investigators bumping into one another around county hall.
Just a few days before County Attorney Jeff Newton (on behalf of ethically conflicted Commissioner Ilene Lieberman) offered up the subterfuge, ousted commissioner Josephus Eggelletion was in state court to face sentencing on a bribery conviction. (Added atop his federal prison term.)
Such a howl went up across the county that Newton's proposal quickly disappeared, leaving the commission with a deadline and -- everyone assumed -- only two options. Either adopt the ordinance created by the Broward County Reform Commission, word for word, or the measure automatically would be placed on the fall ballot.
Not in this movie. Newton and the unseen hand (AKA Lieberman) have dreamed up yet another strategy to undo reform. Newton would have commissioners adopt the reform ordinance at Tuesday's meeting, keeping it away from the angry voters. Then commissioners would adopt a series of amendments designed to exempt the commissioners and their family members and county staffers from most of the new reforms.
Commissioner Suzanne Gunzburger characterized Newton's amendments as a "thinly veiled political attempt to kill ethics reform.''
Newton's so-called "glitch'' ordinance would allow commissioners to keep their seats on bid selection committees. They could still lobby other local governments. Their family members and staffers will not, after all, face strict limits on lobbying. The restrictions on lobbyists' gifts for family members would be gutted. And sitting commissioners would be exempt from certain ethical rules that would be applied to new, incoming commissioners.
"I was absolutely appalled, disgusted, fed up,'' said Broward Ethics Commissioner Robert Wolfe Jr, suffering from an unhappy sense of déjà vu. "We just went through this a couple months ago.''
The ethics commission had spent a year hammering out a package. Not as tough as some wanted. But adopted unanimously. All the while, Wolfe said, certain county politicians, some with profound conflicts of interest, worked behind the scenes to dilute the effort. Now comes this so-called glitch amendment. (Hardly more than a week after Broward Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin was formally charged with seven counts of unlawful compensation.) "There's a culture here that just doesn't get it,'' said the frustrated Wolfe.
It's the sequel to Nightmare on Andrews Avenue. The same scary, sneaky creatures back from the murk, still determined to kill reform.
Robert Weschler picks up the ethics baton and carries it forward at his excellent blog at www.cityethics.org
Yet Another Underhanded Attempt to Water Down the Broward County Ethics Commission's New Ethics Code Fri, 2010-08-06 14:36
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Broward Politics blog
Broward County Attorney Newton denies effort to thwart ethics reform
By Brittany Wallman August 9, 2010 09:34 PM
Broward County Attorney Jeff Newton wrote a letter Monday defending his latest proposed changes to the Code of Ethics county commissioners will vote on Tuesday.
Read the rest of the post at:
Broward County Attorney Jeffrey J. Newton's letter to Miami Herald re Fred Grimm column here:
This was the 2009 Broward Politics video interview with Bill Scherer on ethics in Broward County that I had on the blog for quite some time.
His comments still ring true!
To see the Royal Mail stamps commemorating the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: