The Stench of Corruption

A part time Jacksonville Ethics Officer with a connection to Harvard cannot sweep away with a magic wand the actions cited in Council Auditor`s Report # 779 that, to most thinking people, clearly looks like corruption. Mayor Lenny Curry, Kerri Stewart and Wight Greger were all identified in Ethics Complaints by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, based on this Audit Report.

Ethics Officer Carla Miller has sent the citizens of Jacksonville mixed messages about the recent Ethics Complaints against Mayor Curry, his Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart, and past city employee Wight Greger in connection with funds given to Infinity Global Solutions, inconjuction with this Audit Report.

Miller told the Florida Times Union that the August 2016 complaints filed by Rev. Levy Wilcox of the SCLC was submitted after the statute of limitations expired for alleged actions and her office had no jurisdiction to investigate, yet Miller later stated that there was “no evidence” against some of the allegations made against Stewart or Greger.

Her message change from “no jurisdiction” and “expiration of the statute of limitations” to “no evidence,” suggests that Miller actually completed a thorough investigation of each complaint filed but found no evidence then later changed her decision based on jurisdiction and time. Without an explanation, this shift is very suspicious. Without an adequate explanation, such behavior can greatly undermine the public`s confidence in the integrity of the ethics office.

The complaints were filed within the statute of limitations according to the City of Jacksonville Ethics Code which states,No action may be taken on a complaint filed more than two years after the violation is alleged to have occurred unless a person, by fraud or other device, prevents discovery of the violation. Where the allegations are the subject of a personnel, criminal or administrative proceeding or where the complainant is required to exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to filing a complaint, the statute of limitations shall be tolled until the termination of said proceeding or the exhaustion of administrative remedies.”

Considering that the illegal use of bond funds was a result of a council audit that was completed less than two years ago and that state and federal funds were allegedly used to fund the IGS contract, criminal investigations may be warranted. Therefore, with Miller’s conclusion and decision not to thoroughly investigate, may suggest that the Ethics Officer, is not up to the task of ensuring a fair and transparent City of Jacksonville.

Her decision is questionable and looks to be politically driven.

If she is serious about ensuring a high level of ethics in the City of Jacksonville, she must be a servant of the taxpayers. She must work closely with citizens of Jacksonville to ensure detailed investigations are conducted and provide taxpayers with objective results and findings versus releasing partial and misleading information. At this time, it appears unlikely that Miller or the City`s Inspector General will conduct an investigation into Stewart’s alleged misuse of local, state and federal funds. The taxpayers need a qualified unbiased agency or individual to investigate this unethical situation. Failure to do so continues to perpetuates the belief by many Jacksonville`s citizens that our city government is corrupt and can be bought. The SCLC will file these complaints with the appropriate agency in the state of Florida.

This investigation should be detailed and clearly show:

Scope and nature of city contract with IGS including contract dates,

  1. Greger’s contract, and Stewart’s employment dates.
  2. Funding sources (local, state and federal) of the IGS contract.
  3. Legal provisions for using tax dollars to fund the IGS contract.

The taxpayers of Duval County demand transparency in city government involving granting and approving contracts. This situation is a continuing and historic saga of questionable and unscrupulous city contracts. The Editor of Folio in her article March 16-18, 2016 “Down & Dirty Contracts “, cited the immediate need for a comprehensive review of business practices involving contracts in our city to ensure imparity. The SCLC is committed to improving all levels of governmental responsibility to the people, and it begins with true ethics. “Economic Injustice is a threat to Civil Rights today”.

 

Dr. Juan P. Gray, Board Chair, Jacksonville Chapter, Southern Christian Conference