Thread: Ethics Complaint Against Jones
10-25-2011, 09:31 AM #1
Ethics Complaint Against Jones
WZEP AM 1460 First News Saturday 10-22-11
Suzanne Harris, President of the Edgewater Beach Condominium is reportedly in the process of filing a complaint against Walton Commissioner Larry Jones over the county’s renewing Waste Management’s contract and Jones getting a position with the garbage company.
The complaint, being filed with the state’s Commission on Ethics, says District 3 Commissioner Larry Jones has committed multiple violations of the Florida Code of Ethics. The violations relate to his employment with Waste Management, Inc. Jones was elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004 and 2008. He became employed with Waste Management in early 2009. A complaint only indicates what someone is claiming, and is usually looked at by staff before being investigated. An investigation then goes to the Commission who makes a decision.
Waste Management has held the franchise for garbage collection south of the bay and recently has taken over all the garbage collection in the unincorporated part of Walton County. The city of Freeport also chose to parallel the County’s contract with Waste Management for services inside the city. Paxton is under the county. The company does not collect in DeFuniak Springs, but some suggest a contract is being considered for the central Walton municipality. The complaint says the Waste Management franchise renewals and expansions have occurred without any form of competitive process.
The complaint also says that in 2003 and in 2010, the franchises were renewed prior to the termination date without a request for proposals, qualifications or through the competitive bid process. Local long time waste management company Dayco, out of Freeport, had the franchise until Waste Management bought out the company. This after Walton County said Dayco had misbilled and owed the county for overpayments. Dayco originally agreed and tried to set up a way to make good with the county, but later, after a review, changed and denied that they owed the county. By being bought out, the matter was settled.
The complaint says, most recently, Walton County started and then terminated a request for proposals (RFP) for solid waste services. Walton advertised in 2010, then rejected all proposals, including Waste Management’s and at the same meeting approved the renewal, extension and expansion of the Waste Management franchise agreement.
That would explain a lot about the billing cluster and how quickly the issue went away.
Over half a MILLION that we lost out on if memory serves.
Many things the county could do with an extra $5K a month.
Last edited by scooterbug44; 10-25-2011 at 12:11 PM.
10-25-2011, 05:28 PM #3
Has the ethic commission in Florida ever found anything unethical?
10-25-2011, 06:51 PM #4Wednesday, October 26, 2011WZEP AM 1460 First NewsIn 2010, Walton County purchased about .45 acres of land at the corner of U.S. 331 and Chat Holley. The land is to help at the traffic signal and aid in stacking of cars in the turn lane. A question arose about the purchase and how it was or was not reviewed by legal. The further question became one of, if the county actually owned at least part of the land already. A deed from 1917 for a 33-foot wide strip was cited. As a result, the commissioners decided to have the matter researched by outside council. A report has been generated and the real estate review was turned in.
At Tuesday morning’s Walton Commissioner meeting, Commissioner Scott Brannon said he received the report late the Monday before. Brannon said he is not taking issue with the report, rather only asking for time to review it and interface with the special council. Brannon said it is better to get this done right than to get it done quickly.
The commissioner said his opinion is the parties should be able to participate in the same manner as the Board. Brannon said, after looking at the report briefly the night before, he believes a number of people; including the parties buying and selling the land, engineers Preble-Rish, the surveyor, former county administrator Lyle Seigler and others should be included. He said this is to insure the public trust. Brannon said he feels Preble-Rish and the surveyors were doing business for the Board and should be included.
Brannon then asked to continue the matter to the next BCC meeting or at a special meeting. Brannon made the motion and it was seconded by Pridgen and Comander. Again, Brannon said it is not his intention to change anything in the report, only to prepare properly. He said he has a responsibility to the public to be able to provide answers. Brannon said the 30-day time period was not enough.
Brannon said he has the responsibility and the right to understand what is in the report. He said two weeks should be enough time. Brannon said he feels he has the right as an elected county commissioner and the public has the right to be clear about the report.
County Administrator Greg Kisela asked for clarity on who should be included. Commissioner Larry Jones clarified the request, saying the special council should be available to the Board. Jones noted Brannon was trying to not direct the special council or the report. The commissioners agreed to move the issue to the next meeting, with the understanding they might need to take even longer if needed.
Commissioner Sara Comander asked if County Attorney Hoshihara should stay on leave. Comander said the attorney has been using accumulated personal leave and she should be put on paid administrative leave. Comander then made a motion to put Hoshihara on administrative leave with pay. The motion failed 3-2.
10-25-2011, 08:27 PM #5
10-25-2011, 08:30 PM #6
If anything is to be properly investigated, it needs to be by the Feds. Just look at the success they had in Okaloosa County. Too many relatives and favors owed around here.
10-26-2011, 07:21 PM #7
Well here is a very recent ruling from the Ethics Commission in regards to another accused political figure...
Looks like he got off on the cooking show bit... Seems our current local complaint is a bit more serious.
10-28-2011, 06:49 AM #8
There is a whole lot of smoke surrounding the BCC right now. From the Jones/WM situation (which certainly looks funny) to the 331 land deal (which looks real funny) it seems we have elected a group that is not working in our best interests. The sad thing is we keep re-electing these people and they keep sticking it to us. Meanwhile they have ran off all the staff who knew anything (Ken Little is the latest) and replaced these people which a bunch of sycophants.
10-28-2011, 10:55 AM #9
Agreed 100%. We need some candidates to step up for 2012, not one elected office should go unchallenged.
10-28-2011, 11:33 AM #10
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- SoWal via Louisville
I am sure this falls under what people always tell me when I ask about stuff like this- "Honey, that's just how things have always been done around here..."
10-28-2011, 12:38 PM #11
04-11-2012, 06:25 AM #12
Walton County Commissioner Larry Jones Fired
Walton County Commissioner Larry Jones has lost his job as a government liaison for Waste Management Service.
Jones confirmed that the company he had worked for since 2009 terminated him last Thursday.
Jones said he believed his firing was connected to an ethics complaint questioning the legality of his work for a company that does business with Walton County.
“I’m sure that was part of it. It was the only reason I was told,” he said.
He said he harbors no bitterness toward Waste Management, which holds residential and commercial trash collection contracts with the county.
“I have respect for Waste Management. They made the decision based on the facts as they understood them,” Jones said. “It was a business decision on their part.”
Suzanne Harris, president of the Edgewater Beach Owners Association, filed the ethics complaint against Jones. It claims that as a county commissioner, his employment with Waste Management violated state law.
“The mere act of employment with a company that is doing business with the county presents a violation of the (state) code of ethics,” the complaint states.
It also claims he committed ethics violations by “misusing his public position.”
The complaint states that Jones lobbied other governmental agencies on behalf of Waste Management.
It also claims he obtained information from Walton County employees “to benefit Waste Management as his employer.”
The complaint states that Waste Management has expanded its business in the county since it hired Jones.
David Myhan, an area vice president for Waste Management with oversight across Northwest Florida, declined to confirm Jones’ termination or the reasons for it.
Harris’ ethics complaint against Jones also creates a new twist in her public records lawsuit against Walton County.
Harris’ attorney Matt Gaetz, as well as Shawn Heath, another lawyer seeking to intervene in the public records lawsuit, assert that Harris received a copy of the ethics complaint in an email from County Commissioner Scott Brannon.
They allege that Brannon forwarded the email, with the ethics complaint attached, after he received it from attorney Clay Adkinson, who is believed to have drafted it.
According to Harris, Brannon and Adkinson asked her to file the complaint. She said she agreed after proof was provided that the allegations against Jones had merit.
Adkinson worked briefly as acting county attorney and has represented Brannon personally in a matter pertaining to the public records lawsuit.
In either capacity, Gaetz said, a violation of a judge’s order barring the discussion of county business or county officials on private emails occurred when Adkinson sent the ethics complaint to Brannon via a private email.
“If Clay Adkinson as the county’s lawyer sent an ethics complaint pertaining to Larry Jones to the private email address of Scott Brannon, this constitutes a violation,” Gaetz said.
“If he was acting as Brannon’s private attorney, a violation still exists,” Gaetz said. “An agent of Commissioner Brannon should not be sending public documents to Brannon’s private email address.”
10-29-2012, 05:50 AM #13
Two Ethics Complaints Against Jones Dismissed
We previously reported on complaints to the Florida Commission On Ethics filed against Walton Commissioner Larry Jones by Suzanne Harris and Mike Judkins. Jones has maintained he felt he was not in violation and welcomed the investigation. These came after Jones took a job with Waste Management, a company who was seeking and eventually received a contract with Walton County. The two complaints have been dismissed.
The complaints claim Jones misused his commissioner office by working for and representing Waste Management. The claims indicate he misused his position as commissioner for the advantage of the waste company, a company he was being paid by. In Harris’ complaint it states, “The mere act of employment with a company that is doing business with the county presents a violation of the (state) code of ethics.” Both complaints also say Jones accepted the job with Waste Management and did not notify the county. According to the Commission On Ethics, the complaints also alleged that by accepting the job, Jones “knew or should have known it was offered to influence his official actions.”.
Jones says he consulted with then County Attorney Mike Burke and was told there were no legal obstacles. Jones has maintained he moved forward based on the legal advice. A year ago Jones told WZEP First News he did not believe he was in the wrong and has tried to be open about his position. He also says he made an effort to not participate in any action relating to commissioner decisions about Waste Management. Jones has said that if he was in the wrong and was mistaken, then he would own up to it.
The Commission on Ethics found no probable cause to believe Jones used inside information gained by reason of his public position to secure a benefit for his employer. The Commission also says an allegation that Jones misused his position to benefit Waste Management was also dismissed with a finding of no probable cause. The Commission’s rejection of the claims also rejects an Attorney General’s Office investigator opinion about probable cause.
Jone did not seek reelection of his Commission seat. He tells First news he is actively considering applying for the open County Commissioner job. A few years ago Jones completed a degree that better qualifies him for the position.
10-29-2012, 06:17 PM #14
Perhaps in filing the complaint, Mrs. Harris felt that the relationship was a conflict of interest. Some of us feel that certain relationships constitute bribes. Certainly some states have real ethics laws that frown on such relationships. The former governor of Alabama is in prison for accepting a campaign contribution from a crook. If we prosecuted people for violations of true ethics, even the great and powerful Don Gaetz would be in jail. Nevertheless, I'm amused by the apologists for our "public servants".
10-30-2012, 09:43 AM #15
j p nettles I"m amused that you're amused by "apologists for our "public servants"". I guess I'd be considered one of those "apologists". It is my strong belief that anyone who puts out the effort to run for public office is either utterly stupid or courageously brave, or maybe both. One thing is for sure. Whomever they are, they have by deep and abiding respect. 99% of them try to do what they think and have been shown their constituents want. It is a really tough job. On top of that, they are required to put up with the likes of you and me.
Last edited by Andy A; 10-30-2012 at 09:45 AM.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
10-30-2012, 02:46 PM #16
Our local politicians bring all the complaints on themselves. If they always act in ways with the appearance of being unethical they deserve all the heat they get. If they have even the slightest doubt that something they are doing might be illegal or unethical they should do a little research before acting. Like it or not, appearances are everything in the political arena. A little honesty and integrity goes a long way. If you make a mistake then own it, admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness, and move forward. And most important, learn from your mistakes and don't repeat them.
Last edited by Independent Thinker; 10-30-2012 at 02:50 PM.
10-31-2012, 08:01 AM #17
10-31-2012, 10:29 AM #18
I'd really like to know where I said any elected official was "above ethical behavior". I suggest you take a course in reading comprehension before you question someone's post. Maybe I should try writing at a fifth grade level to assure my point is getting across. Sorry to be so incomprehensible.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
10-31-2012, 12:39 PM #19
Thank you for the advice Andy A, I'll try to seek out a suitable teacher who can tutor me in reading comprehension.
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