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Ethics-related forms tough to find

Want to find a financial disclosure form for your mayor? Trying to investigate whether your county commissioner has disclosed any recent conflicts of interest? Curious about whether a city commissioner has disclosed some pricey freebies from developers?

You better be ready to do some good old-fashioned telephone dialing and probably drive around to various government offices to check out the documents.

Although government agencies have vastly expanded what they put online -- lengthy budget documents, decades of minutes and in Coral Gables even a video showing residents how to drive through a traffic circle -- they have avoided putting documents online that are about elected officials' finances. Government agencies say they get too many and that it would be difficult to do, but is that just an excuse?

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Paul D. Harvill

As a former "customer" of the Florida Commission on Ethics in the 1980s and early 1990s, my recommendation is to place the financial disclosure statements online, as former State Senator and now Congressman Bill Posey sought in 2006.

One problem is: "The Florida Commission on Ethics, which receives about 36,000 financial disclosure forms a year, researched creating an electronic filing system a few years ago. The cost: $1.4 million to set it up and $300,000 a year, said executive director Philip Claypool. And it would require Legislative approval."

What about only elected officials' financial disclosure statements being placed online?

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