Commissioners Breaking New Ethics Law?



Broward commissioners are violating the spirit of the new ethics law.

That’s clear after this week’s vote on a garbage disposal contract.

Commissioners ordered its staff to begin negotiations with two companies – Wheelabrator Technologies and Sun/Bergeron—despite evidence that other companies want the disposal contract.

Why Wheelabrator and Sun/Bergeron?  Could it be that the two firms have a bevy of lobbyists and owners who are always good for beaucoup bucks in every campaign?

So apparently commissioners didn’t care about pushing the edge of the county’s new ethics law.

By picking only two firms to negotiate the contract, commissioners did exactly what the ethics law is designed to prevent.

The new law bans commissioners from serving on selection/evaluation committees.  Those are the committees which recommend vendors for future contracts.

Before the new ethics law, commissioners fought to serve on the committees. By being the ones to pick which businesses got to negotiate contract, commissioners could curry favor and campaign contributions from lobbyists.

That’s why it was prohibited in the new law.

So the wily commissioners have now found a way to still keep that opportunity for contributions operating – just bypass the committee process and pick the vendors themselves.  Then order the staff to negotiate a contract.

That’s what they did with the garbage disposal contract. Do their actions violate the ethics law that has overwhelming support by the public?

Lawyers will have to decide that one.

I believe they at least violated the spirit of the law.

Commissioners could make the public feel comfortable about dancing on the edge of the ethics law.  Any of them or their families running this year should refuse campaign contributions from Wheelabrator and Sun/Bergeron, their principals and lobbyists. And they should return any contributions already given to them.

The ones running this year are Dale Holness, Kristin Jacobs (for Congress),  Stacy Ritter, Charlotte Rodstrom (running for county commission and the wife of Commissioner John Rodstrom) and possibly Ilene Lieberman, who is considering a campaign for judge.  Commissioner Lois Wexler’s term expires and she has not opened a re-election campaign yet.

Will they do the right thing when it comes to campaign contributions?

I’m not holding my breath.

13 Responses to “Commissioners Breaking New Ethics Law?”

  1. The Truth says:

    The Truth is they never intended to obey the law if they could find a way around it. Look at the cities who are now trying squirm around it to “benefit” charities, which really means to benefit the electeds.

  2. Pin Them Down, Squeeze Them Tight says:

    Time for another tightening of the ratchet – a newly engineered ethics law with fewer loopholes and more teeth, to squeeze those corrupt officials harder!

  3. Broward Resident says:

    In all fairness both companies advocated for a competitive process and expressed as much at the Commission meeting on Tuesday.
    These are also the only two firms with the assets, resources, and capabilities of performing the work in Broward County.

    Wheelabrator fought against competitive bidding for two years until they were forced to bid by Miramar. Sun/Bergeron wanted it from the start.

  4. Real Deal says:

    I am no fan of the county however the difference between violating a law and violating the spirit of that law is roughly analogous to laying a fart and merely smelling one. What you suggest may stink to some but there is no violation or crime involved. That is because the activity you describe is not prohibited. It is not the same activity that happens on a selection negotiation committee. To get county commissioners completely out of procurement a strong mayor form of government is required.

  5. Git R Done says:

    This is soooo stupid as to “why” they’re doing this!!! Must be they’re getting paid for their efforts… ya think? It’s just so sickening to think they won’t let others put in a bid for the Garbage Pickup. There are so many other Garbage Companies who have the Equipment and can do the work efficiently, and it wouldn’t cost the citizens so much in money costs. Can’t they wake up and realize what the HELL IS GOING ON?
    It really upsets me because I was in the Business for years and people think that Lieberman knows the Garbage Industry, I DON’T THINK SO!!! She only sits on the Resource Recovery Board People!!! It takes brains and knowledge, something she hasn’t got. NO, she’s not the Garbage Queen, I was always the Trashy Lady back in the days. Geez, why don’t people understand what the Commission is doing??? It is against the Ethics law, WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

  6. Wayne Arnold says:

    Buddy, both you and “real deal” are absolutely correct. Your point regarding county commissioners taking campaign contributions from the two bidders is at least the perception of an ethical or spirit of the law violation. And, “real deal” says and I believe he is accurate that “an Executive Type Strong Mayor” is the answer to this type of procument which would prohibit the commissioners from making the choice in this phase of the process. At least with a strong mayor concept of county government you would primarily have just one set of hands in the campaign fundraising from the special interest. Either way they both smell and biding should be completely open.

  7. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Did you ever think Buddy that maybe just maybe the Commissioners you just mentioned what to get the best possible rate for us the residents???. No they are all after the lobbyist influence and money. Lets get this staight the Lobbyist need the Commissioners, not the Commissioners need the lobbyist. The lobbyist want the contracts etc, naturally the Comm. believe me Buiddy more than half of the commissioners on th e Dais could buy/sell most all of them. To say that the lobbyist could swing there vote for this or that($$$) is an insult to them and esp. to” County Comm.Lois Wexler”. Who by th e way “was very disgusted about the whole process,” just this week. But that doesn’t make your blog though? Hmmmm.

  8. Dear Moron says:

    Really, go look at the previous races by any County Commissioner and find one that funded their campaign with their all of their own funds or even used their own funds to finance 25%. Politicians never use their own money. At best its a mutual need.

    Go ask your pal Rodstrom about his donation in 2008 of 10k in unused campaign fundss to Columbia University where his boy Johnny was applying to a the time (despite daddy being an alumnus and donating 10k, Junior still couldnt get in). At the same time ask John about the donation to St. Thomas Aquinas where his son was attending at the time. Every dime or almost every dime was loobyist $$$.

  9. Broward Resident says:

    In Broward we saw Barbara Sharief spent $300,000 of her own money to get elected to the county and about $600,000 in the last five years campaigning for various local offices. Rick Scott and Michael Bloomberg spent millions of their own money getting elected. David Koch, Rupert Murdoch. They all share that same money buys power philosophy. It does. There’s growing worry about an emerging oligarchy. That is a legitimate concern.

  10. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Dear Moron_ boy you certainly know alot about the Rodstroms. i would thank my lucky stars if my father tried to get me into a “cat house” let alone to one of the best colleges and high schools in the country. As far as lobbyist paying for all this- So you are saying Mr.rodstrom took money from the “lobbyist” (WHO???) and then took that money like some crack addict and used that money to influence what the Dean to let his kid into some high school or college. Mean while he is probably one of the best financial advisors. Tip Mr.rodstrom go deep ,go heavy in Estee Lauder-stock just spilt twice(2) oh yeah baby-) just a couple of months ago. Grandma Jenny who hated me(no joke mothers mother) used to sell cosmetics(ESTE) to these Coovanachi woman who where married to these racketeers- and then let her grandchildren starve-. Prove, substanchiate your accusations there “Dear Moron”…….

  11. Sam the Sham says:

    Interesting comment about a strong mayor keeping the bidding process open and fair. Maybe and maybe not. If you have corrupt people, either as the mayor or as commissioners, they will find a way around the law to gain money, power and influence. The sad fact is that the public does not care how corrupt politicians are as long as they bring home the bacon. Corrupt politicians will always be re-elected as long as they buy their votes with their influence.

  12. Real Deal says:

    I laugh at people that find themselves on a sinking ship but refuse to board another because they’re concerned it may not be perfect. They deserve the same fate as the hitch hiker you feel badly for, so you give them a lift and they begin telling you how to drive your car. Get out!!

  13. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    “Real Deal”-never forget a “sinking ship DOESN’T always sink…..