This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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A review of City Council/CRA meetings during the last quarter of 2017 reveals an incredible display of ‘feckless’ leadership by some elected officials of Boca Raton.
Feckless defined is the lacking of initiative or strength of character with synonyms like ‘useless, worthless, incompetent, and inept….These adjectives appropriately define the leadership or lack thereof during the recent ethics, now criminal, situation surrounding suspended Mayor Susan Haynie. Suspended by the Governor for alleged public corruption over incidents dating back to 2013 and before; incidents where the City Attorney’s participation and her subsequent silence to what is now the uncovered unethical and, perhaps, criminal conduct on behalf of the then Mayor.
Like ‘deer in the headlights’, leadership demonstrated inept governance by their unwillingness to address the ethics issue after ample evidence was presented; evidence gathered from within the City Attorney’s own files. Even after numerous investigative reports by the local media, leadership abstained from taking any action and sat through an incredible and painstaking display of insubordination by the City Attorney.
Reference is made to the CRA/City Council meetings of November 2017 primarily in the Council Member comment sections. Reference is also made to the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission’s findings and the still ongoing State of Florida Ethics Commission case. Even more disturbing is reference to the current public corruption criminal matter pending in Palm Beach County Criminal Court.
This information and more was at the disposal of the entire City Council. To her credit, Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke did raise this subject by inquiring about the City Attorney’s involvement and the involvement of staff members at the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission. Her efforts were met with resistance by the Council’s leadership and ultimately failed to get the collective Council to engage in any further discussion or any investigative process.
The City Attorney’s participation in advocating for the individual interests of Susan Haynie without specific direction of her client, the City of Boca Raton, ought to be viewed as just cause for immediate dismissal. However, the Council has taken no such action. Then Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers and then CRA Chair/Council member Scott Singer specifically declined to institute such inquiry. Now with Susan Haynie’s suspension and the pending criminal charges, the legal and political processes have actually moved forward in spite of their lack of action.
With regards to the City Attorney, her conduct ought to be the subject of a separate investigation, perhaps by the Florida Bar, on a conflict of interest theory; a conflict that has directly caused harm to her client, the City of Boca Raton, not to mention the citizens of the city who are suffering through a painful political situation and a costly and, albeit, unnecessary special election.
Attached here is a video commentary produced in November 2017 raising these questions and asking for a City Council action back then.
Evidence of these activities was presented to every member of the City Council as far back as March, 2017. Within the evidence were proofs that top level members of the City Administration were also aware of the circumstances but sat silent for years while the then Mayor participated in city business without making the appropriate and required public disclosures. No public record has been identified to indicate that any other member(s) of the then City Council(s) was aware of the City Attorney’s activities.
For all this and more, the City Council should have ample reason to immediately relieve the City Attorney from her post. The Council should have just cause to file a complaint allowing a third party agency, the Florida Bar, to review the facts and make appropriate findings and, finally, the Council also should have just cause to file an ethics complaint, local and/or state, against the City Attorney as well….
Or…will the collective City Council continue to sit on its hands and, perhaps, wait for a private citizen to take the lead and file these items. Remember, but for a private citizen raising the question and filing the ethics complaint, this ethics matter in City Hall would have come to closure in November 2017; unresolved, unaddressed…swept under the proverbial political rug.
Corrective action needs to be taken; action to effect principles of good governance at the highest levels in our city beginning with the dismissal of the City Attorney; a City Attorney whose judgment has come into serious question for a breach of the public trust and a breach of her obligations to the primary client; the City of Boca Raton.
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