The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics Thursday opted to neither agree or disagree with other ethics commissions in Florida who oppose proposed new limits on public records requests. Legislation would let judges decide whether to award attorney fees in lawsuits seeking public records.
The law now requires judges to order a government to pay court costs and attorney fees if they find the government unlawfully refused access to a public record.
Executive director Mark Bannon noted Gulf Stream comes under the ethics panel’s jurisdiction, and said the Palm Beach County League of Cities has backed the legislation limiting the legal fees.
Also Thursday, the panel reappointed Chair Michael Kridel and Vice Chair Clevis Headley to additional 2-year posts. And ethics panel members Sarah Shullman and Michael Loffredo, both appointed after members resigned, were sworn in for additional 4-year terms on the board.
The ethics panel also introduced a new logo that shows the outline of Palm Beach County with the phrase “Honesty-Integrity-Character.””
Elected constitutional officers such as Clerk Sharon Bock and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw aren’t subject to the scrutiny of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics in their roles as members of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, because they don’t come under the jurisdiction of the ethics panel at all, its executive director says.
Bradshaw also has said attending opens his constitutionally independent office to the scrutiny of the county Inspector General and the ethics commission.
Bradshaw and Bock are among 11 members of the panel who hold county or state posts, plus four federal representatives, who are not subject at all to the ethics commission, executive director Mark Bannon wrote justice commission’s new executive director Kristina Henson.
of which is expected to be approved without discussion in the panel’s “consent agenda.”
“Those persons who are required by ordinance to be a member of an advisory board of commission,” Bannon wrote, “do not meet the Code’s definition of an official” for the ethic’s commission’s purposes. He said that’s because they’re not appointed by the county commission.
Bannon said two members of law enforcement associations plus the head of the county’s Legislative Delegation might already be subject to the ethics panel by virtue of their regular jobs.
A Palm Beach Post analysis published Dec. 7 found that six members of the Criminal Justice Commission, including County Clerk Sharon Bock and Sheriff Rick Bradshaw, have missed about 87 percent of the meetings since 2007.