Summary of Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics Meeting Held on November 2, 2017

The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics (COE) took the following actions at its monthly public meeting held on November 2, 2017.

Four complaints were heard in executive session. The complete files are published on the COE website at: http://www.palmbeachcountyethics.com/complaints.htm.

 

C17-018The COE reviewed and considered the investigative report, probable cause recommendation, and statements of the COE advocate. The COE issued a letter of instruction and dismissed the complaint finding that the violation was unintentional, inadvertent, or insubstantial.

 

C17-019The COE reviewed and considered the investigative report, probable cause recommendation, and statements of the COE advocate. The COE issued a letter of instruction and dismissed the complaint finding that the violation was unintentional, inadvertent, or insubstantial.

 

C17-028The COE reviewed and considered the investigative report, probable cause recommendation, and statements of the COE advocate. The COE issued a letter of instruction and dismissed the complaint finding that the violation was unintentional, inadvertent, or insubstantial.

C15-023The COE reviewed and considered the investigative report, probable cause recommendation, and statements of the COE advocate. The COE found probable cause existed and dismissed the complaint as the public interest would not be served by proceeding further. 

 

Two advisory opinions were approved. The full opinions are published and available at: http://www.palmbeachcountyethics.com/opinions.htm

RQO 17-015: Two members of the town of Jupiter Planning and Zoning Commission asked:

1)     Would it violate the misuse of office prohibitions or the voting conflicts prohibitions for them to  participate in discussions or vote on proposed amendments to a previously approved planned unit development (PUD) when they are named parties in a circuit court action filed against the Town of Jupiter by a not-for-profit citizen’s group, Citizen Owners of Love Street (COOLS), challenging the procedural correctness of the 2016 project approval by the Jupiter Town Council, and they are both also listed as officers or directors of COOLS?

2)     Would such a vote under these conditions violate the corrupt misuse of official positions prohibitions under the Code of Ethics?

3)     Did their motion, participation in discussions and vote at the July 11, 2017, PZC meeting concerning tabling the issue of the Love Street PUD amendments until they were able to obtain an advisory opinion from the COE as to whether they were precluded from participating in discussions or voting on the Love Street PUD amendments, constitute a violation of the voting conflicts section of the Code of Ethics?

 

The COE opined as follows:

(1)   No. Such actions will not result in a prohibited “special financial benefit” to themselves or to any other person or entity set forth in §2-443(1-7) of the Code, including COOLS.

(2)   No. The fact that an official holds a well-known position on a controversial issue, and takes that position in discussions or votes concerning that issue, does not make those actions a “corrupt misuse” of their official position by being “inconsistent with the proper performance of their public duties,” even where that position is in the minority among voting members, so long as they receive no prohibited special benefit by these actions.

(3)   No. The motion to table was not a discussion or vote on the relevant matter of the Love Street PUD amendment itself, and it also did not provide an improper benefit to them or to COOLS.

RQO 17-022: A city of Delray Beach employee asked if the city is prohibited from accepting a donation of streetlights and other lighting components from a company located in Delray Beach.

 

The COE opined as follows:  The Code of Ethics does not prohibit the city from accepting a donation of streetlights identical to the ones used throughout the city from the company as long as the donation is determined to have a public purpose and the general contractor providing the streetlights does not receive any unlawful benefit for providing such goods.

A detailed explanation of all agenda items is available at http://www.palmbeachcountyethics.com/meetings.htm.