Why Do We Need a Code Of Ethics?

It is not understood which officials and staff of White Springs Municipal Government has actually taken the Ethics course and for those that have, whether the course was understood since there still seems to be “Special Strokes for Special Folks”.  Because of this latter statement we have submitted various complaints to the Ethics Commission in the hopes that they could resolve our problems.  But alas, that will not happen because the Town has deviated from their own ordinances, the charter and the laws which made such violations common PRACTICE.

When Joe spoke to the Ethics Commission, he thanked them for their decision by reason that perhaps now, the Town of White Springs will finally realize that they must NO LONGER MAKE EXCEPTIONS as these officials have before.  We realize some of the statements by the respondents may have been lies, but as we have shown in our previous blog posts, exceptions have been made especially with Town vehicle use so it is a common practice for the Council to vote against their own laws and ordinances, thus making it COMMON PRACTICE to not follow such laws and ordinances.  And, as a result it has cost our Town and it’s citizens an abundance of money.
A position in government is a position of public trust. For this reason, the standards of behavior for public employees or public officials are often higher than those who are in the private sector.

As public employees in the state of Florida, your behavior is governed by Chapter 112, Florida Statutes. You are required by law to avoid any action that might result in or create the appearance of misconduct or conflict of interest.

Employees and Town Officials of the Town of White Springs are judged not only by your official actions and conduct, but also by our personal activities when they are related to the performance for the Town of White Springs.

The Town Officials, elected by the citizens of the Town of White Springs  relies on its representatives to perform Town business efficiently and economically, to protect Town interests, and to meet the high ethical standards of public service.

Because high ethical standards are critical to a local government’s credibility, all Town employees as well as elected officials must be familiar with the ethic laws that regulate their behavior and must be concerned with how their behavior is viewed by the public.

The Town its employees, its city manager, and its elected officials share the responsibility for ensuring that high standards of ethical conduct are maintained within the Town government.

Although the Town’s Code of Ethics may seem new because recently the State of Florida has required all staff and officials take four hours of ethics classes a year,, the laws which it expresses are not new. They are state laws and, as public employees in the state of Florida, you have always been required to obey them. Even though White Springs Council Members, Staff and its City Manager seem to know that these laws exist, it has been fortunate for the Town that the officials and staff have escaped the many violations which have been brought to their attention several times by Joe and Karin Griffin. With the increasing attention on ethical issues in the press and elsewhere, it is time for the Town of White Springs, its elected officials, its town manager and its staff understands what is right and what is wrong.

As a last word, the Town Council was likewise unethical in the hiring of Tommie Jones as a “consultant” when Mr. Jones is technically the Town’s interim manager under contract. The Town has total control over what Mr. Jones is required to do and along with the other factors defined by Workers Compensation, the State Statutes and the IRS, Mr. Jones is definitely an employee.  What really was unethical however, was the fact that Mr. Jones checkered past was not brought forward in the public meeting which was called less than 24 hours, and the Public had to learn of it through the Jasper News.   And from my research, by not doing a background check by interviewing his prior employers, etc, taking a drug test and having his criminal background responded to, as well as showing a copy of his driver’s license, the Town would never be able to plea negligence for any civil action because of Mr. Jones but rather it would be considered an intentional tort.  This is something I had not realized during the time in which we were called RACISTs by Mr. Jones for mentioning he would need a background check. Why was he so objectionable to it unless he had something to hide.  Why was the council so secretive about what they were doing? Why did the Attorney call him a “consultant” when he is not?

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