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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Times-Union Calls for Ethics Investigation

The Times-Union has called for an Ethics Commission investigation into the actions of the Mayor and key members of his Administration in regards to the Trail Ridge Landfill.  Chief among the concerns are the actions that members of the Administration took when dealing with Waste Management.  More specifically, did the City compromise its own case by sharing inside information with Waste Management’s lobbyist AND was the Mayor aware of that action.

There are possible legal and ethical concerns arising from the team approach Peyton’s administration and Waste Management used to lobby the council to pass the proposed contract.

Mosley told council that Waste Management became viewed more as partners rather than adversaries after reaching the negotiated deal.

He said he should have consulted with city attorneys before sharing some sensitive information with Harden about past employee contacts regarding the original contract. Mosley acknowledged the lines became blurred. He expressed regret for any damage he may have caused the city.

What understandings did the mayor or others in the administration reach with their so-called “partner” on this issue to the detriment of the city?

Neither Fussell nor Webb wanted to go there at the meeting. And the public also missed out on the chance to hear if Mullaney’s office factored into what happened. Other mayoral staffers enjoyed the same break.

Webb’s move to withdraw the bill and council’s eventual approval ensured that no further testimony would be heard. Fussell could have intervened and called for the vote later but didn’t.

The city Ethics Commission is a fitting place to air out these questions, even if it lacks the power to compel testimony.

But the troubling ethics issues underscore the need for an independent Ethics Commission with the ability to explore what happened and take action, if warranted.

As the Times-Union points out, however, the Ethics Commission has no power to compel testimony, raising the likelihood that few of the parties would voluntarily appear before the Commission.  A state grand jury investigation or even better, a federal investigation to look at  potential honest services fraud on the other hand, might be something that is more capable of delivering answers.

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Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , ,

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