A law firm retained by Deerfield Beach to evaluate reports of ethics violations has opened an investigation into the conduct of the city's vice mayor, Sylvia Ferguson -- formerly Sylvia Poitier. But the same firm dismissed three other ethics complaints against Ferguson, saying they failed the "prima facie" standards set forth in the city's ethics code.
Deerfield Beach received letters today from Christine Tatum, an attorney with Lewis, Stroud, and Deutsch of Boca Raton, containing her analysis of four ethics complaints, all by Acts of Sedition blogger Chaz Stevens. The one complaint that met the minimum standards for an investigation was Stevens' allegation that Ferguson failed to file a disclosure statement of potential conflicts of interest within 90 days of the city's passing its ethics ordinance, in March.
But Tatum dismissed the allegation by Stevens that Ferguson was allowed an exemption from the city's policy of disconnecting water service for customers who haven't paid their bills. Those allegations predate the passage of the city's ethics ordinance. Tatum also found that Stevens had to failed to establish that Ferguson had used her position as a commissioner to put off payment of water bills.
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Another allegation that failed the prima facie test was the one centering on Ferguson's having failed to make a complete disclosure of her relationship with the Westside Deerfield Businessmen Association, the city's Community Housing Development Organization, which is run by Ferguson's daughter, Felicia Poitier.
But Stevens has dug up more circumstantial evidence in the weeks since he sent that batch of ethics complaints -- such as Ferguson's having family ties to one of WDBA's leading creditors. Asked for his response to Tatum's letter, Deerfield's political assassin emailed the following cryptic remarks:
Vile deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air, it is only what is good in man, that wastes and withers there.
Although the real credit for that line probably goes to Oscar Wilde.