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MDC Commission on Ethics TrainingEthics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION ON ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST ETHICS TRAINING COURSE February 14, 2014 Commission Chambers 1700 Convention Center Drive, Third Floor, City Hall Miami Beach, Florida 33139 Present were: Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics & Public Trust: Joseph Centorino, Executive Director Robert Thompson, Community Outreach Coordinator Miami Beach Elected officials: Mayor Philip Levine Commissioner Michael Grieco Commissioner Joy Malakoff Commissioner Micky Steinberg Commissioner Edward L. Tobin Miami Elected official: Commissioner Keon Hardemon City of Miami Beach staff in attendance: Jose Smith, City Attorney Gary Held, First Assistant City Attorney Rafael E. Granado, City Clerk : Bonnie H. Stewart Danila Bonini Djordje Milekie Gloria Campos Lauren Cummins Leonor Hernandez Tathiane Trofino Victor Pulido ETHICS TRAINING COURSE The training began at 10:26 a.m. Gary Held, First Assistant City Attorney, introduced the guest speaker, Mr. Joe Centorino, Executive Director of Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. 1 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach Mr. Centorino welcomed everyone to the ethics training and introduced Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon in the audience. To view the Power Point Presentation, click here. LIST OF ITEMS DISCUSSED: 1. Government in the Sunshine Law Article 1. Section 24(a) Public records Article 1. Section 24(b) Public meetings Basic Requirements The ule in Miami Beach. Public Access One Way/Two Way Communications Liaison Delegation Staff Meetings Public Participation Advisory Boards Fact-Finding Committees Recordings Shade Meetings The De Facto Meeting Community Forums Competitive Solicitation Exemption Curing a Violation Prosecution of Sunshine Law Violations: Penalties 2. Public Records Law Defined Custodian Scope Draft Memos/Reports Special Situations Exemptions Consequences 3. Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust Gifts: Solicitation Miami-Dade County, Acceptance Miami-Dade County Prohibited Gifts: County and State Law Travel Expenses From Municipal Vendors Miami-Dade County Gifts: Acceptance, Disclosure Miami-Dade County Bribery/Unlawful Compensation Unauthorized Compensation Lobbying Two-Year Rule Miami-Dade County Exploitation & Misuse of Official Position Involving Non-Profit, and Government Resources 2 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach Misuse of Official Position Examples 4. Conflicts of Interest Voting Conflicts: Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, and Actions Prohibited When Financial Interests Involved What Should You Do? Compulsory Disclosure By Employees of Firms Doing Business With the City Miami- Dade County Supplemental Disclosure of Family of Business Relationships Miami Beach Prohibition Against Transacting Business with the City, and Waivers Further Prohibition Against Transacting Business with the City Prohibited Investments Miami-Dade County Acquiring Financial Interest Miami-Dade County Prohibition on Conflicting Employment Miami-Dade County Prohibition on Recommending Professional Services Miami-Dade County Certain Appearances and Payment Prohibited Miami-Dade County, and Miami Beach Prohibition on Certain Business Transactions Miami-Dade County Nepotism 5. Cone of Silence Miami Beach Cone of Silence Exceptions Penalties 6. Penalty Provisions Miami Beach Miami-Dade County Code of Ethics Penalty Provisions 7. Charter Preamble Convenient Access Truth in Government Public Records Minutes and Ordinance Register Right to be Heard Right to Notice No Unreasonable Postponements Right to Public Hearing Notice of Actions and Reasons Budgeting Quarterly Budget Comparisons Adequate Audits Regional Offices Financial Disclosure 3 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach Representation of Public Commission on Ethics and Public trust Miami Beach charter Additional provisions QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD: Question Set 1 Re: Gifts and Bribery Commissioner Grieco asked, as an attorney himself, that if he receives a referral from a law firm that sometimes lobbies with the City, could that qualify as a gift? Mr. Centorino stated that it would not, as the referral is done in his capacity as an attorney in his private law firm. In these transactions, there is usually some type of referral fee paid and that is part of the practice. Commissioner Grieco asked what if there were no referral fees. Mr. Centerino explained that he would not regard that as a gift. It is not being given to him in his capacity as a Commissioner, but it is being given to him as an attorney. Mr. Centorino then added that he should nevertheless be careful when it comes to taking business referrals from a City vendor. Commissioner Grieco clarified that he is talking about a large law firm that actively lobbies in the City that referred a client to his criminal defense practice. Mr. Centorino answered that it depends who is offering the referral, and whether they are expecting something in return. It would be a good before accepting questionable referred clients, that way, he can have the Ethics question the referral. Question Set 2 Re: Lobbying Commissioner Tobin asked whether someone who was told by an organization to talk to his/her elected officials regarding an issue could be considered a lobbyist. Mr. Centorino clarified that as long as the person is not employed by the organization, that person is acting as a citizen, and citizens have the right to speak to their elected officials, even if they have been asked to do so by an organization or someone else. an unpaid employee would be considered a lobbyist, he then asked for examples of unpaid employees. Mr. Centorino be paid as a lobbyist, or a lobbyist may be doing a favor for an organization to speak on its behalf, or a person may be working for free, if they are part of an organization, and try to influence elected officials, they would be considered lobbyists. paid employee. Commissioner Grieco elaborated stating that a Tennis Center in Miami Beach had recently told the people who frequently use the tennis facilities to individually and/or collectively contact their elected officials and express their opinions regarding the Tennis Center. His question was whether the people who use the tennis facilities could be considered unpaid employees, and therefore lobbyists. Mr. Centorino explained that he would not consider them lobbyists, because they are not formally connected, or part of the organization, they would only be considered people who were encouraged to speak out. - officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office. His question was in regards to whether statements he makes as to the job performance of individuals doing a good or poor job could be 4 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach considered lobbying. Mr. Centorino clarified that public statements commending or criticizing ut statements where he is recommending someone for a job would be considered lobbying. Mr. Centorino then emphasized that during the two- year rule, former elected officials do not lose their rights to express their opinions, but they should try and keep opinions to a minimal, because they may be considered as attempts to influence others. Question Set 3 Re: Recommending Professional Services Commissioner Tobin expressed that he is aware that he cannot state that a certain individual should be appointed to a job, but he wanted to know whether he can make a general statement that there is some subjectivity regarding the ethicalness of recommending someone for a position, but as a general rule if he does so publicly it is allowed, but he will get into trouble if he expresses his opinions of recommending a certain person in private meetings. Question Set 4 Re: Prohibition on Certain Business Transactions Mayor Levine asked whether giving gifts or inviting commissioners to dinner would fall under the elected official grey area. Mr. Centorino responded by saying that it should always be considered a grey area, but given that there is a collegial relationship; gifts can be exchanged as long as they are not meant to be given for any kind of quid-pro-quo. Additionally, Mr. Centorino made it known that gifts worth more than $100 create an obligation for the person receiving the gift to report it, but there may be situations in which it is best just not to give or accept gifts, especially if there is a perception that the Mayor or one of the commissioners is Question Set 5 Re: Penalty Provisions Commissioner Hardemon asked, for clarification, if investigation costs are added to the restitutions the Ethics Commissions orders to pay. Mr. Centorino explained that restitution is money owed to someone who has successfully proven that he/she suffered damages, but the investigation costs are separate, and he believes they are capped at $500. Commissioner Hardemon mentioned that the Ethics Commission receives anonymous tips and formal complaints, but he then asked at which point they begin their investigations, at the anonymous tip or at the formal complaint? Mr. Centorino gave the distinction between the State and the County Ethics Commissions. The State Ethics Commission can only begin an investigation with a formal complaint, whereas the County Ethics Commission can begin its investigation as soon the County Ethics Commission that much stronger. Commissioner Hardemon continued his inquiries as to whether the County Ethics Commission has subpoena powers, and what the time allotted for investigations is. Mr. Centorino replied that indeed the Ethics Commission does have subpoena powers, and they use it regularly to conduct their investigations. The Ethics Commission typically has sixty days to conduct its investigation; the time limit is given to not keep the respondent in a perpetual state of being investigated. Once the investigation is underway, it is kept confidential; the Ethics Commission is not required to give the respondent notice of the investigation. Commissioner Tobin raised the point regarding the confidentiality of the investigation, and that although the Ethics Commission may keep the investigation confidential, there is nothing 5 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach stopping someone from going to the press, and informing them of the ethics complaint. This is especially worrisome during election times, and the fact that someone can make a frivolous and character. Commissioner Tobin then asked if there is anything that can be done to stop the information of an on-going investigation from reaching the press. Mr. Centorino concerns of people abusing the system to start a baseless ethics complaint to damage an cter, but there is nothing they can do to stop a person from going to the press. If the complaint is frivolous, the Ethics Commission has a review board, and they can quickly dismiss it. City Attorney Jose Smith mentioned how the Florida Bar deals with frivolous complaints. The , and the Bar Council that advises the grievance committee can summarily dispose of the complaint as frivolous, and the complaint does no the capability of dismissing the complaint outright or if he needs to take the complaint to the Ethics Commission, for them to authorize him to engage an investigator. Mr. Centorino responded that the Ethics Commission first has to determine whether they have jurisdiction over a case. If the complaint falls under state law, criminal law, or if it is a complaint against a lawyer or judge, then the Ethics Commission will not have jurisdiction. If the matter is involving someone being rude, which is not an ethics issue, the Ethics Commission will not have jurisdiction either. Any violations that are deemed s, or lacking significance or importance, can get dismissed very quickly, because the violations are so minor and technical it is not worthy of an investigation. Mr. Centorino clarified that he does not make the decision alone whether or not to dismiss complaints. It is the responsibility of the Ethics Commission to do so, and although a case may get dismissed immediately, the complaints are still public record, and must be logged in. Mayor Levine proceeded to ask if there is any recourse in filing a frivolous complaint against someone, and if someone files an ethics complaint against someone who filed a frivolous ethics complaint. Mr. Centorino affirmed that there is in fact recourse, and it is for the Ethics Commission to quickly determine if there is no merit to a complaint and make it known publicly. In regards to filing an ethics complaint against a frivolous ethics complaint, when someone files an ethics complaint then the Ethics Commission can take action on that, but that is not an ethics violation as such. Mayor Levine asked if there could be a moratorium in filing ethics complaints during elections unless they adhere to a certain standard. Mr. Centorino stated that there is no such way to prevent people from filing a complaint, but there are consequences if it is a frivolous complaint, but what constitutes a frivolous complaint may be difficult to define. Mayor Levine also asked that if someone has been slandered, and libeled in a frivolous ethics complaint, can file a slander and libel lawsuit against that person in court. Mr. Centorino replied that as long as damages could be proven, then a lawsuit could take place. Question Set 6 Re: Filing Complaints Commissioner Tobin asked whether the Ethics Commission would consider making a public n can make one, and until we investigate it and determine whether someone has committed a wrongdoing it i Mr. Centorino replied by saying that if someone blatantly filed a complaint to hurt someone, he would consider making some kind of statement to ameliorate the fairness. If he knew for a fact 6 M:\$CMB\CITYCLER\AFTERACT\2014\02142014 Ethics Training\02142014 Ethics Training.Docx Ethics Training February 14, 2014 City of Miami Beach that a complaint was issued simply to hurt the character of an official, he would act quickly to resolve the issue, but he wants to make it clear that he does not want anyone using the Ethics Commission for political purposes. 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