Stacy Ritter Does It Again | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Stacy Ritter Does It Again


dirtiest things done by this rogue's gallery of an elected body yet.

Understand that the Broward County Ethics Commission, created by the mandate of voters, created an inspector general's position to police corruption by commissioners. The ethics appointees -- who did an amazing job -- gave the general broad powers to investigate commissioners, allowed complaints from anonymous whistleblowers, and specified that published reports could be the basis for investigations as well.

Basically they gave the position the powers that any other law enforcement agency might have, from the FBI to BSO.

In short, the Ritter Amendment dictates the inspector general will only be able to investigate based on a complaint from a person who is willing to be publicly identified. The inspector general wouldn't have the authority to initiate investigations on his or her own. Investigations by newspapers -- or fishwrappers, as Ritter often calls them -- will be verboten. The Ritter Amendment actually bans using them as part of any complaint. 

While it diminishes the general's power, it also gives the ethically bankrupt county the power to go after the complainant if his or her complaint is unsubstantiated and is deemed to have been filed with malicious intent. Then the county can go after all investigative costs and legal fees.

In other words, Ritter's amendment takes power from the general and puts all the onus on the citizen who files a complaint. The identified complainant will even have to state, under penalty of perjury, that he has have "personal knowledge" that everything in his complaint is true. Sounds like they want the citizen complainant to do the entire investigation beforehand. This amendment is not only wrong but it smells fascist (and I don't throw that word around a lot).

It's clearly designed to reduce the number of complaints by taking out anonymous whistleblowers and newspaper reports.

Now you might be thinking, well, it would protect the commissioners from erroneous complaints. Wrong answer. Erroneous complaints will fall by the wayside; that's the job of the inspector general.  

And here's the really sneaky part. None of this will be mentioned on the ballot when people vote on it. Instead the ballot title will read this way:

Create Office of Inspector General and Consolidate County

Auditor Functions Into Office of Inspector General

Sounds great, right? The ensuing paragraph makes no mention of gutting the inspector general's powers or adding language to retaliate against those who complain about the politicians.

Voters will have no idea that Ritter and her craven colleagues are pulling one over on them.

Here's what needs to happen: The Broward County Commission will have to (again!) be shamed into tossing this thing to the curb so it will never be on the people's ballot.    

Consider that the investigations that led to corruption charges against Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, Diana Wasserman-Rubin, and Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini were all initially based on published reports. Published reports also led to Jeb Bush's housecleaning of the North Broward Hospital Board and top management. And a published report led to the JQC investigation that prompted the former chief criminal judge in Broward, Ana Gardiner, to abandon her post rather than face charges. I know about all these because those were all published reports that I wrote.

I've also written about Ritter, and it is her moves like this one that prove once and for all that she's unfit for office. Let's just hope she's gone before the new inspector general ever even goes to work.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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