What Bob Norman should have said about the ethics battle is that it’s more than just about water bottles.
And it is.
It’s also about the law of unintended consequences, and the water bottle issue although real, is simply symbolic of if.
We’ve already run smack dab into that law last year.
In case you’ve forgotten, the Class Size amendment forces school districts to meet strict limits meaning hire more teachers or else.
Translated in to English; even higher costs for the school district.
Oh, and maybe even more “unnecessary” construction. Good thing that’s not the case in Broward.
At least not yet.
Fast forward to the Ethics law:
The fact that Commissioner Dale Holness couldn’t accept a simple bottle of water paid for by his own taxes is absolutely ludicrous.
The fact that he’s both a taxpayer in Broward County and Lauderhill doesn’t seem to matter to some even though his money paid for the water.
No, it’s not every case, but the incident shows how inflexibility can become stupidity.
The ethics law is chock full of good intentions and we all know which road is paved with those.
I agree with the lobbying ban for one very specific reason:
Another term for public officials lobbying others within the county is influence peddling.
.As an elected official, I’ve never lobbied anybody. Neither have I as a former elected official, not that I haven’t considered it.
Have I given advice to elected officials? If you think the answer is no, you’re not reading enough Watching Broward.
But getting back to the subject, zero tolerance doesn’t work.
The feds discovered it in their zero tolerance drug policy years ago.
The School Board discovered that fact only this year.
I can see the future Sun Sentinel headlines now:
“County Commissioner arrested for accepting a bottle of water.”
“Commission staffer testifies; was told to keep mouth shut over water bottle.”
“Governor suspends Commissioner in water bottle arrest case.”
And of course we’ll follow a Local10 photographer along with Bob Noman chasing the culprit sprinting out of the court house trying to avoid cameras.
The “gift ban” needs to be replaced by a common sense policy with a dollar limit and a requirement for reporting everything, not just one penny over the dollar limit.
Otherwise the players will find a way around the law as they always do, and the cheats will simply continue doing what they do what they’ve always done..