Naples council takes next steps to help create new ethics commission

Patrick Riley Naples Daily NewsPublished 4:59 PM EDT Sep 21, 2020With a deadline looming, Naples leaders are t

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With a deadline looming, Naples leaders are taking steps to help establish a new independent ethics commission approved by voters earlier this year. 

Naples city councilors on Monday unanimously voted to direct the city clerk to advertise an open position on the new ethics commission.

They also asked city staff to gather nominations and bring them back to the council no later than Nov. 2 for interviews and subsequent appointment by the council.

The city council is among a group of five governmental bodies or officials each required to select a member for the new five-person commission.

The ethics referendum, approved by Naples voters in August, amends the city's charter to establish an independent ethics commission. Appointments have to be made within 90 days of the amendment's approval, which means the ethics commission would have to be fully seated by Nov. 19.

More: Ethics referendum passes with 62% support from voters in city of Naples

More: Ethics referendum on ballot in Naples could create new ethics commission, office

Naples councilors also directed the city clerk to send a letter to the other four member-appointing authorities, attaching a copy of the charter amendment and pointing them to the section in the amendment that requires them to make appointments to the new commission.

Those officials or boards include the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit, the Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit, the Collier Sheriff and the Collier County Commission.

Per the charter amendment, the ethics commission will be tasked with “developing and drafting an amended ethics code” and advising the city council on ethics matters.

The city has an existing ethics code in its code of ordinances, which outlines guidelines for city employees, elected officials and advisory board members on items such as conflicts of interest and prohibited relationships. It also covers standards of conduct and what to do with conflicts when voting. 

The ethics commission will have the authority to receive and investigate ethics complaints and impose penalties for violating ethics procedures, according to the charter amendment. 

The referendum also creates an ethics office with an executive director. The office will be responsible for items such as keeping records, filing complaints and offering training programs.

The referendum passed with 62% of the vote, or 4,190 votes, while 38% of the vote, or 2,564 votes, were against it.

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