Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 3:19 p.m.
By next week, Broward County will be ruled by a new code of ethics thanks to a unanimous vote this past week by the county's commission. But commissioners followed up that vote by moving to place a referendum on the ballot that, if passed, would significantly weaken ethical reform.
Now Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger is urging voters to defeat a measure that only sounds
like it's designed to bring more integrity to Broward County government.
In this post on the Daily Pulp, Bob Norman explained the backdoor fashion of this referendum, which would forbid requests for initiating investigations based on source material -- that is, published reports, even though the media is usually where corruption allegations are first made public. It would also discourage people from filing complaints based on a refusal to allow anonymity and by exposing those complainants to legal action by the public officials if the complaint is found to lack merit.
Gunzburger told the Juice this afternoon that she initially voted against placing that referendum on the ballot, based on her objection to these three measures that weaken ethical reform. She reversed her vote, she says, only because she hoped to ask at the next meeting for the issue to be brought up for "reconsideration," a move that can be done only by commissioners who had voted in support of the legislation.
But Gunzburger says she's since been informed by the county attorney that under commission rules, she'll need six votes to bring it up for reconsideration -- and considering the hostility toward her on the commission
, that ain't gonna happen. So Gunzburger will simply enlist in the campaign to defeat the measure.
"I will tell voters to reject this," she says.
On Tuesday night, Gunzburger was the target of an enraged group of commissioners who believed she was grandstanding on ethics. "It felt like an ambush," she says. "I was certainly uncomfortable. I was surprised by the level of anger."
Gunzburger, of course, is locked in a tough reelection race with former State Sen. Steve Geller that will be settled at the polls August 24. "I can hardly wait," says Gunzburger, who has been at the polls since early voting began this past week. "Out of the 12 early voting days, I'll be there ten," she says.
Hers has been one of the most vicious campaigns in recent memory, with Gunzburger accusing Geller of orchestrating a criminal investigation against her for corruption based on county business that involved her late husband more than ten years ago. Any regrets?
"Yes, I regret that former State Sen. Geller decided to run against me," she says.