My letter to the County Commission asks for explanation regarding how they choose people who will serve on the board of directors for Sarasota’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The EDC is charged with implementing strategies to grow and diversify our local economy. They make recommendations to the County Commission regarding economic development grants. Read: your money being awarded to private enterprises. You remember those grants – they include the 650K that went to Sanborn Studios.
Serving on the board of the EDC is privilege – and inherent conflicts of interest and/or demonstrated problems with avoiding such conflicts ought to be reason to pass on a candidate for the EDC board, and certainly sound reason for stepping off the EDC board. We have many intelligent, talented people who can serve, whose corporate, legal or ethical status are free of ethics questions or conflict of interest.
These ethically-challenged practices are consistent with a County Commission who just fired their ethics officer for looking into County Commission ethics questions.
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I am writing to inquire about the status of the Economic Development Corporation board of directors and the criteria used to appoint and retain EDC directors.
Despite the findings of a Federal jury, who concluded this attorney failed to protect the bank’s interests in making a 5.3 million dollar loan, the local attorney one year later serves as a board member of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation, as shown on the EDC website.
It seems the Federal jury’s findings regarding malpractice/conflicts of interest in protecting a client making a significant loan would uniquely disqualify an individual from serving on the EDC.
Can the BCC please provide an explanation why this individual serves on the EDC board of directors?
The recent firing of the County Ethics Officer who questioned County Commissioner actions, specifically the client relationship between SANCA and a Commissioner-owned enterprise, indicates a failure to uphold ethical (and possibly legal) standards by the BCC. The Commissioner who owned the event company consistently failed to recuse himself from SANCA votes with one exception. This is not meant to suggest recusal is a sufficient remedy – it appears the client relationship may be highly improper.
When Bob Waecther was filmed stealing the identity of a fellow Republican on videotape, the BCC took no action regarding the propriety of his continued service in official advisory roles. After Mr. Zoller and I wrote to you questioning his continued service, Mr. Waechter resigned.
Lack of proactive leadership regarding sound ethical standards is an abrogation of your duty to provide the public with honest services. Please advise as to how the EDC board is configured and reviewed, and what, if any, action you plan to take to address the problem noted and any other potential issues (e.g. is it appropriate for a corporate recipient of EDC grants and County tax exemptions to serve as chair of the EDC board of directors).