Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to County Administrator Bob Weisman’s letter last week titled “Keep Open Mind When It Comes To OIG.”
Mr. Weisman’s admonition to keep an “open mind” would appear to be more reasonable, if he wasn’t making his admonition from his office in Palm Beach County. Mr. Weisman seems to ignore the long history of corruption in Palm Beach County and the residents of Palm Beach County, who have drawn conclusions about lawsuits brought by the 14 cities unwilling to support an OIG with “independent powers.”
In view of the number of “public servants” doing time or having done time in federal prison, there are many of us who feel or rightly assume much of the support by the county attorney and the county administrator is nothing more than educated lip service to the idea of a really independent OIG. While they publicly support the concept of an OIG, they don’t support a totally independent OIG.
Residents of Palm Beach County have grown to recognize the subtle maneuvering that has highlighted attempts at delaying or blocking a totally independent OIG, and are concerned that such maneuvering is an attempt to protect public servants in the 14 cities from independent oversight and scrutiny and suppress public complaints.
The residents of Palm Beach County have had enough of cabals and desire more transparency from the people we elect or are appointed as county administrators.
Richard Nielsen, Royal Palm Beach
The OIG is costing taxpayers $7.3 million dollars a year. Commissioners who supported the new office told taxpayers it would be funded through a one-quarter percent surcharge on contractors bidding for government contracts. It is obvious to me that the contractors will simply add the one-quarter percent to the bid price and taxpayers will end up paying. Isn’t it interesting that OIG supporters who are so concerned about honesty and integrity have not acknowledged this obvious fact.
As for independence, in a totalitarian government there is a great deal of independence. I advocate that since the Clerk and Comptroller’s office already has an office of Inspector General with limited powers, that those powers be expanded to include those granted to the OIG. The cost to taxpayers would be considerably less. It would avoid duplication of services; and since the Clerk is a constitutional office, it has sufficient independence; yet is subject to voter approval. If you don’t like the current IG you are stuck with her. You can’t vote her out of office.
The County Administrator in effect brought to our attention that the IG was pursuing a dead end course. She has created a hornet’s nest that is costing the county and 14 municipalities a great deal of money. For your information all courts who have considered the IG’s complaint have tossed it out faster than you can say Jack Robinson. If you have any legal training at all you know that her complaint was practically frivolous. And it should have been obviously to the IG after the first dismissal of her complaint with a one word opinion “dismissed”. In such cases when the law is abundantly clear the court need not give a long-winded explanation.
In conclusion, the way to avoid malfeasances in office is to elect people of good character and repute. Hopefully all the IG who hold office will posses these qualities, but don’t bet on it.
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