Why improve our ethics policy?
Download a one pager on why we need an improved ethics policy here.
Good ethics makes good government. Ethical government begins with good people, but a high level of ethics performance requires education and training, available confidential consultation, a straightforward procedure for raising concerns, investigations that are competent, fair, quick and confidential, and an oversight that is sufficiently independent to ensure the public of the integrity of the process.
Naples' current ethics policy can and should be significantly improved in all these areas. The most important function of an ethics office is to improve understanding and performance of local officials and staff. Complaints and investigations will occur, but in Naples are likely to be a secondary function that can be handled quickly, locally and under the City's own ethics rules and procedures.
Because Naples' current ethics code lacks an educational or consultative component, requires complex procedures for filing complaints, has no dedicated staff, is focused on "criminal intent" and is not independently implemented from the officials and staff it must cover, complaints go the Florida State system which is cumbersome, slow and not focused on local concerns.
Read about Naples' current ethics policy here.
Best practices for good ethical policies are well understood, and we have spent a year consulting with ethics experts and lawyers to propose a Charter amendment that will require an independent, voluntary ethics commission made up of City voters who will amend our existing ordinance, oversee an ethics office, and serve as a hearing board for any ethics concerns. City Council will review and approve any ordinance amendments and the budget. We have received input from our City Attorney and other local officials, and incorporated their advice in the proposed amendment.
Is there a crisis now? Not really, but there is a clear need to improve our ethics policy and oversight. Let's get a world-class ethics policy in place for our world-class City. The time to do this is before a crisis, not after the newspaper headlines appear.