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Jacksonville’s Ethics Commission Seeks More Responsibility

September 25, 2009

JacksonvilleThe Jacksonville Times-Union reports that, “Efforts by Jacksonville City Hall’s Ethics Commission to obtain greater independence from the mayor and City Council and more oversight over all government agencies was met with skepticism Thursday by a panel appointed to review the city charter.”

The nine-member ethics board wants jurisdiction over the entire consolidated government, including independent agencies. It also envisions a dedicated staff that can conduct inquiries and have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents.

But some members of the Charter Review Commission said they believe the system works fine the way it is. Expanding the Ethics Commission’s authority to investigate allegations of corruption and wasteful spending would create another budget-draining bureaucracy, they argued Thursday.

Most complaints don’t involve true ethics violations and can be easily resolved, Gillam said. But some do warrant an investigation, and the non-paid board members, with no dedicated staff, have to rely on others to get that done.

“I am not yet convinced that there can be a one-stop shop that covers all of those issues or, if there can be, that it’s necessarily the Ethics Commission” that should be doing it, Charter Review Commission Chairman Wyman Duggan said after the meeting.

Duggan warned against creating a more activist ethics agency, recalling Miller’s vocal criticism of a lack of indictments following a grand jury investigation into allegations of Sunshine Law violations by the City Council.

“What I heard you saying is nobody’s heads rolled and we need to change that, and I think that does not foster confidence, that creates concern,” Duggan said.

He went on to defend city officials, saying well-intended government officials sometimes find it hard to perform their duties and satisfy the state’s open-government laws.

Request to expand duties of Jacksonville’s Ethics Commission given frosty reception [Jacksonville Times-Union]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. MotherRedDog permalink
    September 25, 2009 11:57 am

    Oh what a tangled web………………..

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