We are very concerned about the proposed change in the City of Naples Code of Ethics which calls for the abandoning of the more stringent City of Naples Code and the adoption of the State of Florida Ethics Law.
The First reading proposing that the city of Naples adopt the State Code was held on August 17, 2016. The Second reading is scheduled for September 7th. Without any action the change will become effective September 7, 2016. Unfortunately, given the timing and limited advance notice regarding this, very few members of the community are even aware of the proposed change.
The City Attorney originally proposed 2 alternatives:
· Plan A –one proposed alternative was to amend/update the existing city of Naples code to address specific areas of concern . In his original memo dated May 2nd he identified two areas that should be updated (one regarding the treatment of "gifts" and he also indicated that conflicting employment/contractual relationships language should be updated to track state law) --and we would anticipate that the community would have no objections to changes in both of these areas...
· Plan B the other proposed alternative was to adopt the state code
here is the link to Mr Pritts May 2, 2016 memo to city council-http://naples.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=14&clip_id=2687&meta_id=162980
The City of Naples code is more stringent in two critical areas
· The city code is more restrictive relative "voting conflicts" and
· also with regard to prohibiting the disclosure and use of information not available to members of the general public…for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity.
Why would we as a community want to abandon the currentmore restrictive City of Naples Code of Ethics—in particular with regard to these two very important provisions?
Based on our research we do not see any compelling reason to “gut/abandon” the stricter Local code under the guise of adopting the state code to “address inconsistencies and clarify which law governs” which are the primary arguments presented for making the change.
Inconsistencies and potential conflicts in the State Law versus Local Ethics Ordinance…
The city’s current ordnance already addresses what happens if there is an “inconsistency” or “potential conflict” with state law. The more restrictive provision prevails.
The State Law Specifically allows for more stringent local standards…
The state ethic’s law specifically states that a city can enact an ordinance that imposes “additional or more stringent standards of conduct” (and as noted by the City Attorney in fact other cities in Florida do have more stringent local ethics code)
Why Not Go with Plan A ?
We can very much appreciate that some folks have expressed concern that the current code is too restrictive —in particular with regard to the “gift” policy to avoid a conflict. And that the current code may need to be updated to comply with the state law language regarding employment/contractual relationships (two area specifically identified in Mr Pritts May 2, 2016 memo)
We would very much encourage city council to go with plan “A” and update the city of Naples Code of Ethics to specifically address the 2 issues identified in Pritts May 2, 2016 memo --and rethink Plan “B” i.e. abandoning the current city of Naples Code of Ethics and adopting the State Ethics Law.
Where at/Next Steps:
The change will be effective September 7th unless stopped. Up to this point there essentially has been no opportunity for public input in the process.
Please contact members of city council and join us in voicing concern about the proposed change in the City of Naples Code of Ethics.
Here are the email addresses for the mayor and members of city council.