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PBC Ethics forwards Inquiry to State Authorities

October 8, 2010   //     //   Announcements, Newspapers
Commissioner Ronald E. Harbison told Schaller that he never even read Schaller's documentation

Ronald E. Harbison

The local newspapers are reporting “Palm Beach County ethics panel drops complaint against Jess Santamaria…” This headline is misleading. Under the Palm Beach County ethics code, “the issues raised fall outside the jurisdiction of the ethics code” as was the case with Commissioner Koons because he had “no financial gain” from the actions that lead to his arrest and resignation.

The Ethcis Commission said the concerns were outside their jurisdiction. The Commission will now forward their findings to the proper authorities at the State level. Andrew Schaller requested that the County ethics code be more closely aligned with the State ethics code. Currently, actionable activities under state code are perfectly permissable under the county code.It is now time for the proper state authorities who have jurisdiction and are not limited to actions occuring since May 1, 2010, to apply the same set of rules and standards that lead to the Koon’s arrest.

Palm Beach County Ethics Commissioner Ronald E. Harbison told Schaller that he never even read Schaller’s documentation in preperation for the Commission meeting. Director Alan Johnson said he would provide the Board with copies of Schaller’s Request for Inquiry. Schaller questioned Harbison by saying wouldn’t it make sense to read the documentation before making a decision upon it? Harbison had no further comment.

“Johnson on Thursday said he plans to recommend that the Ethics Commission call for county commissioners to consider changing the ethics code to cover conflicts of interest or misuse of office that don’t necessarily result in financial gain. That would make the county’s rules similar to state laws that don’t require a financial gain requirement, Johnson said.”

View the PBC Commision on Ethics Agenda Memorandum beginning on page 57 and continuing to page 65.

The newspaper artciles can be found at The Palm Beach Post and The SunSentinel.

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