The ethics code went into effect for the cities on Jan. 2, 2012.
Among its provisions is a requirement that cities and the county put a searchable database online containing lobbying activity. If a lobbyist meets with, calls or emails the mayor, for example, it shows up in the lobbying log.
Click here to see Fort Lauderdale's log, which is highly searchable, by topic, name of person being lobbied, name of person doing the lobbying, etc. You might never find it on the city's webpage, but once you do, it's golden.
Pembroke Pines, meanwhile, still had the words "coming soon'' on the lobbying log this morning. The city's home page does have an "open government'' link making it easy to find the ethics-code related disclosures. They just weren't all there. A few hours after I emailed city officials, the "coming soon'' was replaced with a database link.
I had reached out to Commissioner Angelo Castillo, among others. He was complying with the disclosure by filling out a form of lobbying activity, which was available on a "documents'' link on the city's open government page. But as you can see by searching for all the lobbying there, only 12 entries come up, from Castillo and the other commissioners.Mayor Frank Ortis was not complying at all, in that regard.
The law requires that the lobbying contact be "filed for public inspection.'' And here's the definition in the ethics code:"Filed for public inspection means that the form is completed legibly and is filed with the applicable governmental entity's chief administrative official or clerk with a copy of the form or all information contained thereon inputted into the applicable government entity's database, which database shall be searchable by internet.''
Cities that don't have websites capable of that can provide the info to the Broward League of Cities' website, to be put in an online searchable database there.
I asked city officials in Pines why it took them so long to heed the law. Castillo said he was unaware.
"I do my part and assumed the city was in compliance as well,'' he said.
Here's what the city clerk said:
It was an oversight brought to our attention last week by a resident. As soon as we were made aware of it, the log was placed on the website in its current form (Excel spreadsheet) so that the information could be accessed from the website as quickly as possible. Our Information Technology Department is completing a permanent programming format, which will replace the searchable spreadsheet. We expect the permanent format to be on the website next week.
Judith A. Neugent
City of Pembroke Pines