Are You a Lobbyist? Maybe, According to New Broward County Ethics Ordinance

Categories: Politics
cca-ice-protest5.jpg
A potential lobbyist
A town council member in Southwest Ranches has refused to talk to his constituents about town matters, citing a new ethics ordinance that was approved last Tuesday night by the Broward County Commission.

Bill Di Scipio, a Southwest Ranches resident, had been trying to set up a meeting with council member Steve Breitkreuz to discuss plans for a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility on the western edge of the town. Di Scipio and some other local residents have been banding together in opposition of the facility, which was first approved in a 2005 resolution passed by the Town Council.

Breitkreuz had offered to meet with some residents at a private home to discuss the detention facility. But on Thursday, he sent an email with a curious reason why he had to cancel.

He wrote:

Monday night would not work for me. I have a non-town commitment on that night. However, there is now a bigger issue. I am not sure if you have read about the ethics ordinance that was passed on first reading by the Broward County Commission on Tuesday evening. Basically they have defined a lobbyist as someone that wants to discuss a town issue, whether they are compensated or not. Therefore, basically all residents, if they wish to discuss ANY issue, other than something that only individually affects them, as a lobbyist. Before the conversation takes place, the lobbyist will need to register as a lobbyist and pay the lobbyist fee. (emphasis added) It is insanity!

Di Scipio responded:

No resolution has been adopted. It has no force. So, you can meet with us. 

Further, we are NOT lobbyists, we are resident taxpayers seeking redress of our local government. We will NEVER register as lobbyists so that we can discuss town issues with a direct impact on us. This is a continued assault on the democratic process and open government. I will not stand for this. 

Is it really possible that Broward County approved an ordinance -- which has not become law yet, as Di Scipio notes -- that says anyone who wants to discuss any issue is a "lobbyist" and must pay a fee and register as such? Has free speech and open democracy become so stained by corruption that we must cut off our thumbs of liberty, or however that Ben Franklin quote goes?

Let's read part of the new ordinance (available in full here):

"Elected officials should avoid even the appearance of impropriety in their interaction and dealings with lobbyists... To promote full and complete transparency, lobbyists... who intend to meet or otherwise communicate with an Elected Official for the purpose of engaging in lobbying activities... must legibly complete a contact log..."

OK, so what's a lobbyist, and what's lobbying?

"Lobbying... means a communication, by any means, from a lobbyist to a covered individual regarding any item that will foreseeably be decided by a final decision making authority...

"Lobbyist means a person who is retained, with or without compensation, for the purpose of lobbying... 'Lobbyist' does not include a person who is... an individual who communicates on his or her own behalf..."

Breitkreuz apparently took this to mean that anyone who wants to talk about something that doesn't "only individually affect them" qualifies as a "lobbyist." But the fact that the county amended the definitions to say that a lobbyist is "a person who is retained" may mean that you're a lobbyist only if somebody else hires you, as a paid worker or volunteer, to advocate the cause aside from personal interest. 

Check out the new ordinance if you're curious -- ethics in Broward County government is certainly a subject ripe for scrutiny. Meanwhile, we'll put a call out to some experts to see what's really going on here and just how much local officials like Breitkreuz are allowed to talk. Whether they want to is another matter.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Stefan Kamph on Facebook and Twitter: @stefankamph.
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Gaichaples
Gaichaples

I HAVE gone to all the meetings for over 8yrs on the property that the county zoned for a prison before we even became a town. our meeting were to make sure that it DID NOT impact the town or the town of pembrook pines. we could not take the zoneing away ,we could address everyones concerns and there were many. the meetings were advertized and open to the public , when ICE wanted an immigration retention facility the site was one of several. it met all of southwest ranches restrictions that were agreed on by the owners of the site. i like many other residents visted the TENN. facility at the invitation of cci. we did not all go together. they flew us out there showed us the facility and answered all of our questions. we had lunch and they flew us back home that day. at no cost to any of us. the way we got to go was at the work shops they asked if anyone would care to vist their facility in TENN.  , at the last work shop i decided that i needed to go and see for myself just what it was like first hand and ask my questions as they hit me at the prison. i was very impressed with the whole operation. i told the council at the next general meeting that i was impressed and if any one had any doubts they should take them up on their offer and see for themselves. as for the BROWARD COUNTY CODE OF ETHICS i attended their meeting and made my concerns known. i found it interesting that the CHAIR/MAYOR said i was not a lobbiest but the two lawyers representing the county were not so sure. they also said that the 31 towns and cities had lawyers and they could decide if you are breaking the law or not. BOY WHO GOES TO JAIL IF THE LAWYERS ARE WRONG.???????????? YOU DO.   there is a county commisioner  mrs. rubin who is going to trial . why because she voted on something her husband was presenting for the town. she did ask the county lawyer if she should remove herself from the vote and he said  no. the lawyer is not being prosecuted he gave his oppinun. put yourself in an elected officals place, unlike the county commissioners who are making $90,000 plus , these men and women have jobs and serve the community because they care and want to improve their towns or cities. i found out some are only paid $500 a month. with the cost of gas that won't even pay their fuel bill doing town business. the town of southwest ranches spent a year writting and working on a code of ethics for our town. we have had it for over a year. what the county should do is let each town or city write their own CODE OF ETHICS. one shoe does not fit all , each town and city is different with different needs. they county can review it and then give it their blessings or twick it. we are a town that is made up of volunteers this will have a big impact on us of we can not talk and work with our staff and council.

Notprisontown
Notprisontown

Mary Gay Chaples is one of the leading proponents of the prison.  She doesn't comprehend the impropriety of accepting a paid trip to TN to view what is essentially a showcase facility, a Potemkin Village, by a large aggressive corporation. I believe that the Soviet's characterized this manner of being used as that of a "useful idiot."   The harshness may strike some, but the strident bigotry that exists and well on public display by the proponents of the prison such as at the last Town Council meeting needs to be strongly resisted.

I mean really, who in their right mind would say they want a prison three times the size of Krome in their "rural lifestyle" affluent town?

Regarding these meetings being open.  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz AND Keith Poliakoff think otherwise:

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach....

and

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach....

The process has been hidden and for good reason.  Those sharks, Mary Gay...  Those sharks...  That's why.

Further, as regarding the quality of the work that was done by Mary Gay and company protecting our community from getting hurt, will Mary Gay address this letter which I've shared with her demonstrating the adverse affect on the community?

In it, BSO Fire Deputy Chief Charles Raiken on February 6, 2011 wrote "It was made extremely clear that the [BSO] anticipates a significant impact related to Emergency Medical Services responses, and a moderate impact related to fire suppression responses to this proposed development.  Additionally, the [DLE] has indicated its concerns for potential impact to its surrounding DLE districts relating to increase calls for service as a result of unanticipated activities and/or incidents at the CCA facility."

Further, Mary Gay and her vocal minority of the SWR HOA collective never heeded Broward County Staff recommendations which addressed this concern and noted as item #2 on The BC Board of County Commissioners 2/22/11 summary of that agenda item which said:

"Prior to County approval of the plat note amemdment, staff is requesting that the Town of Southwest Ranches adopt a resolution committing the Town to ensure the provision of adequate police, fire and emergency medical services, prior to site plan approval of the facility."

Of course, no matter what MGC and the HOA collective say, that resolution was never adopted or proposed by the slick speaking lawyer and the hapless Town Council that feels they are obligated to a "cone of silence" with no identifiable legal basis or accepted origin.  (Can you really imagine this hapless and craven bunch with the responsibility of governing a huge prison like this?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.)

Regarding the asinine code of ethics the equally asinine County Commissioner's passed; MGC is 100% correct on that one.  That's next on the list to address.  And if you check this blog you will find that the main issue that Doug McKay, Keith Poliakoff, et., al., took issue with was their disclosing of their non-public sources of income.  These "Profiles in Courage" didn't really care at all about the attempt to label citizen activists in their communities as lobbyists.  They liked that part of it because it promoted their Soviet politburo style of government.

In the end, the vocal minority of the SWR HOA collective have continued to alienate their residents, good friends in Pembroke Pines and Weston, as well demonstrate remnants of the worst bigotry that existed a few decades ago in the area that was widely known as KKK country.

It's time they all took a step back and began working with their neighbors and other non-HOA residents towards... Ranchers for Better Government.... and World Peace."  We are part of the 21st century.  We come from every corner of the globe and we've been to every corner of the globe.  Where's the real FF when you need him?

Bill Di ScipioResidents Against SW Ranches ICE Detention Center.

Bill Di Scipio
Bill Di Scipio

Let me get this straight.  The ruling elite and their followers in Broward are taking issue with a resident 6 blocks from the proposed detention center joining with other residents to oppose it and to redress our local government and council members with our grievances?

You mouthpieces are making the case that a resident should register as a lobbyist to speak with his district's council member who REFUSES to speak publicly about it, and at a town meeting promised to speak privately about it and CHIDED a resident that such an offer was made but not exercised and then when exercised was denied.

The ruling elite and their followers support this according to the commentators here.

Let me also put this into perspective in that Broward county is notoriously corrupt with elected officials going to jail for felonies all the time such as Bev. Ghalleghar, Ken Jenne, etc.

Further, Southwest Ranches is notoriously mismanaged, has been since incorporation and is a cesspool of backroom deals and cronyism such as the whole Wasserman-Rubin disgrace.  And you want ME to register as a lobbyist???

It's so silly and laughable that you all are embarrassing yourselves.

Hey, you get all the flack when you are over the target.  Thanks for letting me know that we are right on target.  You wanted our attention?  You got it.

Get the Facts Right
Get the Facts Right

Mr. DiScipio and the The Pulp fail to point out that Mr. DiScipio is active in a group attempting to form a corporation in oposition to the prison and immigration in the United States.  As such, this is certainly not just a resident with an issue, but instead he should be treated as a lobbyist.  Good job Breitkreuz for following the law!!!!!!

Stop the Detention Center!!
Stop the Detention Center!!

Get YOUR Facts straight!  This is a HUGE violation of our representative democracy!  You must be council members posting on here because you want to protect one of your own and your monstrosity of a detention center. 

Breitkreuz is Right!
Breitkreuz is Right!

Since DiScipio refuses to register, I guess Breitkreuz never has to meet with him!  Oh well!

County Resident
County Resident

The law is so ambiguous!  Good for Breitkruez for following the strict letter of the law! Hope all elected officials do as well.  Better be safe than sorry!

County resident
County resident

The Broward County Ethics Ordinance is unconstitutional.

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