Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sept. 23: Arrest Fallout: Broward Needs Tighter Ethics Enforcement

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Last year, Broward County voters approved the creation of an Ethics Commission. That commission, appointed by county commissioners, is to write a code no later than next March.

None too soon, after today's arrest of Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman on corruption charges.

The South Florida Business Journal has the specific complaints on its Web site:

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will be busy the next day or so, as he likely suspends Eggelletion and Gallagher. Salesman lost his commission seat earlier this year, as he was going to trial on the assault charge.

Ironically, the county Ethics Commission has one vacancy - the seat that would have been filled by Eggelletion. Whoever replaces him will likely fill it. Crist will make that decision on a temporary commissioner and School Board member as well.

There have been some Broward politicians arrested in recent years - former Sheriff Ken Jenne two years ago, former Commissioner Scott Cowan in 2000, and Salesman on an assault charge in 2007. But the scope of what happened today is staggering.

That's why the Ethics Commission must put together a code that leaves no room for doubt on the rules county commissioners must follow. And the School Board must conduct a similar review of its own standards.

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