By: Sharon Aron Baron
The Florida Board of Ethics has advised Tamarac Commissioners Michelle Gomez and Julie Fishman that their website start-up would be a conflict of interest since it would collect revenue to operate and that revenue could come from soliciting possible city vendors.
The two inseparable commissioners decided to pursue an internet venture called “Tamarac Times” which they told the commission would be an online calendar to help sort through the difficulty of picking and choosing which fundraisers to attend.
“When we would try to attend all of the Tamarac charity events, we found many events overlapped, or were being held at the same time,” wrote Gomez to the Ethics board.
Here’s a suggestion: Why don’t the two of you split up and then you both can attend pretty much everything in this small city.
But here’s the kicker: the two of them have the benefit of free legal service from our city attorney in their back and forth letters to the Ethic Committee, and you, the taxpayer, are paying for this legal representation for their start-up business.
What will they do next, use the city logo?
The biggest concern the Ethics Committee had is that the primary source of revenue needed to to maintain Tamarac Times is advertising, and Florida Statutes prohibits city commissioners from soliciting city vendors to advertise. Even if they weren’t currently vendors of the city, they could be future vendors. This could impede on their responsibility to make impartial decisions in their public capacity should the vendors have to come before them.
But here’s an idea to make their online venture work: Step down from public office and work it full-time. This would be a great endeavor, and you can both spend more time together and not have to worry about those pesky ethics.