Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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Ziffer calls for tougher ethics code

Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer signaled he wants to toughen up the city’s ethics code, requiring among other things annual audits of city commissioner office accounts.

Ziffer said he wants to add provisions that would prohibit officials from misusing their position or city resources for personal gain and ban outside employment conflicts and gifts that might influence behavior. Many of his suggestions follow recommendations issued March 2 by the city’s Ethics Board.

Voters in 2014 overwhelmingly approved a city charter amendment that created a local ethics code and Ethics Board with the power to investigate allegations of ethical breaches against city officials and impose penalties if wrongdoing is found.

However, the group that successfully pushed for the ethics code, Citizens for Ethics Reform, has long called the ethics code weak and in need of more stringent provisions.

Ziffer, during Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, sought to fast-track the proposals and vote on them in October. But he found little support to do so from his colleagues, who asked for a workshop instead.

He told commissioners he also wants to prohibit the Ethics Board from being able to penalize city officials in cases arising from anonymous complaints. The Ethics Board recently grappled with an anonymous complaint filed against the city manager.

Ziffer said he’s been working on the issue for months and has met with a number of people to discuss it, including members of Citizens for Ethics Reform, Ethics Board members and the independent ethics officer and State Attorney Jack Campbell.

Check back with Tallahassee.com for more on this story.

Contact Jeff Burlew at jburlew@tallahassee.com or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

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