Two blows were struck last week against the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics and the Office of Inspector General.
The first was the vote by county commissioners to revive the Ordinance Drafting Committee to discuss adding two members to the five-member commission, to impose diversity. The second was a vote by the Inspector General Committee, which consists of the members of the Commission on Ethics, the state attorney and the public defender, to put up an online poll to gauge feedback on the Office of Inspector General.
The composition of the Commission on Ethics is not based on demography; it is skills-based. Appointments are made by diverse organizations listed in the ordinance and not by the county commission. Yet one county commissioner seemed to imply that perhaps with seven members, each commissioner would get to appoint someone to the Ethics Commission.
The Ethics Commission members are not an advisory board. They create opinions, issue subpoenas, hold hearings, issue penalties and enforce the ordinances. All are forced to be apolitical. The actions of the county commission were political, as was the intended outcome in attempting to modify the makeup of the Ethics Commission.
As for the Inspector General Committee, it has been deliberating how to evaluate the performance of Inspector General Sheryl Steckler when her contract comes up for renewal in 2014. The members claim that the online poll will not be used to evaluate Ms. Steckler’s performance.
Such polls are statistically invalid but will be published, and could be used by political “enemies” of the office. Such polls also can be “gamed.” There already are complaint and feedback mechanisms in place for both the Office of Inspector General and the Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission members, the state attorney and the public defender did not volunteer to use online polls to evaluate how they are perceived.
It was a sad week for good government. “Corruption County” hasn’t changed. It’s just put on new makeup.
Palm Beach Gardens
Editor’s note: Iris Scheibl served on the panel that wrote Palm Beach County’s ethics rules.
Rates keep rising
in spite of record
I would like to respond to the Feb. 3 letter to the editor, “No breaks in Fla. for car insurance.”
The writer is dead-on accurate in her assessment of insurance companies in Florida. We were recently up for renewal through Progressive and have had six years of clean driving with no accidents and no claims. We always paid our premiums in full six months in advance.
Our reward for this was that our rates were raised $263 for the upcoming six-month period. Overall, we estimate that within the past three years, our rates have risen almost $900. It definitely doesn’t pay to be a safe driver or have loyalty to one company in Florida, because in the end they stick it to you anyway.
North Palm Beach
Regarding the ongoing stories about problems with hurricane insurance in Florida, such as cancellation of policies: These problems apparently are never-ending. Here’s a solution:
Any insurer that is a national/international company will not be allowed to do business in any state unless all of its coverages are available in that state. To be able to “cherry-pick” would not be an option for any insurance company. Specifically, a company that offers both auto insurance and homeowner insurance as part of their overall services, could not operate in any state unless all coverages are offered. To exclude some coverages because of higher risk to the company could not happen.
Why live here and
not speak English?
Regarding the Feb. 6 letter to the editor, “Many Latino students angry”: We live in the United States of America and our native language happens to be English. I can’t understand why anyone who is living here would object to learning to speak our language.
If I went to live in any other country, I would try my best to learn the language spoken there. I feel strongly (along with many others) that if you want to speak only Spanish, why don’t you go back to your country and speak your language? I’m fed up with pressing 1 for English and 2 for Spanish.
GOP not troubled by
As I listened to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s denouncement of a doctor who never met him, never spoke with him, and never examined him but could still render a diagnosis (“N.J. governor irked by doctor’s remark”), I could only think of a group of Republican senators (including Dr. Bill Frist), representatives and even a president who, in 2005, could examine a 15-year-old video and determine that Terri Schiavo was not brain-dead and should not have life support removed.
No wonder the Republicans don’t want the government running the health program.
West Palm Beach
a minority opinion
The review of “Mary Poppins” by Hap Erstein (” ‘Mary’ is jolly, dreary, too long,”) was an insult to the production company, which is an excellent cast of actors, singers and dancers. It also was demeaning to the Kravis Center and to the people who administer the Broadway Series.
I have attended Broadway shows for 65 years and only could praise this production, as well as a full house that, unlike other audiences, did not leave quickly to get to their cars. This audience stayed on their feet in appreciation of a very entertaining evening.
Mr. Erstein should review his criteria for his opinions. Is it better to attend a show that might be a tad too long or one that is too short? My suggestion to The Palm Beach Post is to have some of the other staff members at the performances and ask those in attendance their opinions. Subjects covered could be the set, costumes, vocals, dancers, etc. After all, the only opinion that really counts is that of the audience.
Rubio needs polls
to decide anything
Regarding “Rubio chosen for State of Union rebuttal”: Your article stated that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is “poised and careful.” As the Cowardly Lion said in “The Wizard of Oz,” “Ain’t it the truth?”
In an interview, Sen. Rubio was asked a series of questions ranging from Supreme Court appointments to global warming. His answer to many of these very timely questions was essentially: “Don’t know yet. I’ll get back to you.” A more honest response would have been, “I haven’t seen the polling data on that yet, so don’t know what I’ll think.” So much for the great hope of the Republican Party.
of mental health services
Congratulations on your Feb. 6 editorial, “Widen mental health debate.”
We need to continue the discussion of providing mental health services to those in need, and to continue to educate the public about mental health issues. A knowledgeable family, educated friends, teachers and co-workers are likely to notice symptoms of high stress, depression, agitation and anxiety if they know what to look for. Children with emotional problems benefit from early intervention, and so does society in general.
We must erase the stigma of mental illness, provide adequate services and fund those services. Florida has seen consistent reductions of funding for mental health and substance abuse services. We are 49th in per-capita spending or those services.
The Action Alliance of Palm Beach County is a coalition of advocates who are committed to “Breaking the Silence” about mental health. Members include the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, initiatives from Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and Delray Beach. Anti-violence groups, like Boynton United to End the Violence are forming throughout the county. If we work together, we can educate the public and prevent tragedies like the one in Boynton Beach.
CAROL LAZARUS, LMHC