Letter: Support The Office, Not The Person

There seems to be no end to the turmoil created by the Palm Beach County Office of the Inspector General. Each side seems to put the blame everywhere but where it should rightly be. First it was the cities filing suit over the funding matrix. I clearly heard the County Administrator [Robert Weisman] say that the funding mechanism in the referendum was not enough to fund the office and that early on he had recommended another method which the commissioners employed. That means the cities are correct that the funding is not in line with what the people voted.

Next we have the county administrator at fault because he criticized his employee, Sheryl Steckler, for circumventing her employer to become involved in the lawsuit and to expand the budget and personnel of her office.

But let’s take a look at the common denominator here — Ms. Steckler. She certainly has been an inappropriate employee. There is no solution that satisfies her, and when she does not get her way, she begins a public rant with the unfortunate support of one of the commissioners. It is time for this to end. The public continues to support the Office of the Inspector General, but it can no longer continue to support the individual who sits in that position. It is Ms. Steckler who is the embarrassment of the county.

According to Mayor [Steven] Abrams, the inspector general is recommended by the state attorney, public defender and the ethics commission, I urge them to secure an individual for the Office of the Inspector General who will follow the guidelines of the position, work within the budget and provide the public with the service that they voted for.

Jerry Coffman, Royal Palm Beach


  1. The Commissioner this writer failed to identify who still supports the Inspector General is Jess Santamaria. The Inspector General’s Office was to be his crowing accomplishment. While well intended, Commissioner Santamaria did not do his usual due diligence in estimating the cost of the new office. In his defense he responded as he usually does to public outcry for action. The selection of this Inspector General was an unfortunate mistake that Santamaria could not have foreseen.

    If anyone is to be criticized it should be the drafters of the ordinance that created the mess that resulted in a court battle between the county and the local municipalities. The drafters might have anticipated the problem of a county taxing a municipality for the Inspector General’s services. This is a case of first impression. The Miami/Dade Inspector General “model” is really not a model for what the Palm Beach County Commissioners created. In Miami/Dade the Inspector General’s authority extends to only county business.

    To say that Sheryl Steckler is the problem misses the point. While she might be criticized for continuing to “kick a dead horse” and should have realized that her attempt to intervene in the law suit was futile, she had every right to file the initial request, just as the 14 municipalities had the right to seek a court opinion on a tax issue that had not previously been decided.

    Palm Beach County will continue to have an Inspector General as long as voters continue to believe that her office can reduce official incompetence and criminal activity. If voters are made aware that the creation of an Inspector General in Miami/Dade has cost taxpayers $5 million dollars a year and has had negligible impact on reducing official incompetence and crime, perhaps then voters might reconsider their decision.

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