Council Members Seeking Conflict Rules; Personal and City Business Relationships Have Caused Issues for Three of Them

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Adopting clear guidelines on the types of connections that pose conflicts of interest is the first step in addressing the public disclosure problems shadowing the Jacksonville City Council, its leaders said Wednesday.

Council President Richard Clark and Vice President Jack Webb will ask city lawyers and the city Ethics Office to help draft a document that explains how conflicts are identified under state law.

Council members will use those guidelines, and advice from the city General Counsel's Office, to determine whether any business or personal relationships pose a conflict that would require them to recuse themselves from voting on a particular matter.

An adopted document will be posted on the council's Web site.

Webb and two other council members were recently accused of having business relationships that should have been disclosed before each participated in a controversial vote on bus shelter advertising in October.

Webb, a lawyer, was working at the time for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, which lobbied in favor of the bus shelter legislation approved by the council.

City Councilman John Crescimbeni has worked for years as executive director of Scenic Florida, the statewide affiliate of a local organization that lobbied against shelter ads. Councilman Bill Bishop is a volunteer board member of Scenic Florida.

Webb was also criticized in October for taking Republic Services on as a client just months after he helped lead the council's opposition to the Trail Ridge landfill contract extension. …