« Crowd calms down at third Common Core hearing | Main | Baxley meets with Equality Florida about gay parents statement »

Panel: South Florida's public corruption won't stop. But we'll keep trying to fight it

@PatriciaMazzei

After the recent arrests of three city mayors in Miami-Dade County, it seemed particularly apt to hold a panel Thursday titled: "Public Corruption -– When Will It Stop?"

The answer, of course, was never.

But that doesn’t mean law-enforcement agencies should stop trying, said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, Assistant State Attorney Howard Rosen and Ethics Commission Director Joe Centorino. Or that people should stop tipping off investigators.

"That's where we get most of our cases," Ferrer said.

The three spoke at a discussion hosted by the Good Government Initiative, the organization created by former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson at the University of Miami to groom better elected officials.

Ferrer’s office has the largest public-corruption investigations squad in the country, he said, with 11 FBI special agents and 12 local police officers. Over the past 10 years, Florida has had the highest number of federal corruption convictions in the U.S.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more wrongdoing here, he emphasized.

“It shows you we’re on it –- and there’s so much,” Ferrer said.

Rosen noted that with more government services and new technology, “there are ways to commit public corruption now that didn’t exist” before. But there are also more ways to detect it -– not only by investigators, but also by reporters and citizens armed with public records.

Most politicians and public employees are decent people, Centorino added. But he said he fears a “rotten barrel” –- instead of only a few “rotten apples” -– of miscreants if their deeds go unpunished.

The Commission on Ethics & Public Trust is working on an honor code, he said, to make it a public-sector obligation to come forward when someone sees a bribe, for example.

“You’d be amazed,” he said. “Some people didn’t think they needed to do anything about it.”

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sasha Winderbaum

Recently sent some important info to the commission but never received a response.

michael wind

joe centorino is not doing his job,perhaps it is time to investigate that situation,perhaps too many friens in a criminal lifestyle.

Robert

When you see this happening again and again; you have to wonder. Let us just use David Rivera as an example. 11 charges of ethics violations confirmed; what was his punishment? Election fraud. What was his punishment? Using campaign funds to live a lavish lifestyle. What was his punishment? See, being a house mate to a sitting U. S. Senator does have it's advantages.

Ed Jenkins

A good start would be removing the corrupt Garcia who has been caught red handed in many scandals in less than a year in office. This paper has already detailed them and he should stop putting his constituents through this and resign giving them a chance to be represented, not have someone holding their seat that no one wants to go near for fear of getting tainted by his scandals.

richard hauser

am a victim of corruption in polk county fla. its so corrupt in this county the law-enforcement agencys help the criminal and are the criminal , the sheriff office attempt to BAKER ACT. ME after I when to the congressman office ask for help. I being illegal monitoring, documents files missing at pubic record,
computer records gone,ect. ect.

The comments to this entry are closed.