Why improve City ethics?

The City of Naples is a wonderful city but we are not immune from the pressures that compromise governmental integrity.
We are a small city physically, but in terms of property values – and corresponding temptations – we are bigger than many cities in Florida.

Ethical issues in Naples

We have had a few ethical hiccups along the way (details here) but effective ethics is not about catching offenders.

 

Education, consultation and prevention constitute as much as 90% of the typical ethics office activities. This is like our fire department which rarely fights a fire but performs dozens of inspections every month to prevent fires. Lots of prevention, very few fires.

 

Deficiencies of our current ethics code

Our current ethics code is weak, complex and missing critical “best practices” capabilities. For example:

  • Lack of independent oversight, with city officials directly supervising their own behavior

  • No one is directly responsible for prevention, training or consultation

  • No one is directly in charge of complaints or investigations; instead 5 separate individuals cover complaints: County Sheriff, Chief of Police, State Attorney, City Manage, City Council

  • Absence of clear procedures for filing and handling complaints

  • No procedures exist to govern ethics investigations

  • No explicit protections exist for those being investigated

  • Absence of advisory or reporting functions to City Council on ethics issues

 

More details here.

 

What the Amendment would do

The proposed Charter Amendment would require the City to address these failings. It would change the City’s Charter in 3 ways:

  • Ethics Commission: A voluntary independent ethics commission of five City of Naples voters to be appointed by the following elected officials: State Attorney, Public Defender, County Sheriff, County Commissioner (District 4) and our City Council.

  • Ethics Office: An Ethics Office with at least a part-time executive director as well as written procedures for handling complaints, confidentiality, training and advisory functions, lobbyist regulations and investigations.

  • Revised code: A revised Ethics Code that covers all city employees, officials and lobbyists

These basic requirements would be placed in the City's Charter, which can only be changed by the voters.

The details of a revised ethics code would be established by the Ethics Commission and City Council. Program costs would be low; the Ethics Commission is voluntary and City Council will retain full control over the Ethics Office budget.

More details here.

 

Benefits to you

  • Establishment of “best practices” ethics in Naples helps you to be confident that decisions will be made with your best interests in mind, rather than special interests.

  • You will have a simple, confidential way to address concerns you may have about ethical behavior of city officials and employees.

  • Ethical concerns will be handled locally, quickly and transparently.

  • City officials and employees will have the best advice possible regarding ethical policy and situations from a dedicated ethics expert following the City’s own ethics code.

As the City’s motto says “Ethics above all else.”

More details here.

It’s time to get this done

Read the history of the Charter Amendment petition, unnecessarily prolonged by the City’s failed lawsuit against Ethics Naples and the 1,481 City voters who signed the petition. Details here.

TO FIND OUT MORE:
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© 2020 by  Ethics Naples, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.

Contact us at email@ethicsnaples.org

Paid political advertisement paid for by Ethics Naples, Inc., P.O. Box 1384, Naples, FL 34106-1384