By Bryan Boggiano
State representatives Christine Hunschofsky and Dan Daley are taking action to hold the North Springs Improvement District (NSID) accountable after alleged ethical concerns.
On Thursday, State Rep. Christine Hunschofsky filed House Bill 199: Conflicting Employment or Contractual Relations for Public Officers or Employees.
The bill removes the current exception allowing for officers or employees of a special tax district to do business with that same district they are part of, according to a press release.
“Trust is essential for good government, for good stewardship of public dollars, and for serving our constituents,” Hunschofsky said in a statement.
She continued, “By making sure that officers and employees of special tax districts are subject to the same ethics laws that govern other stewards of public funds, we are adding another level of transparency and protection to the use of public dollars.”
The exception roots back to a 1975 law that exempts those affiliated with certain special tax districts from the same conduct standards of other public office holders.
One aspect of the law allows officials in special taxing districts to do business with or for that same district. The bill would remove that exception and put special taxing district office holders and employees under the same code of conduct as other public officers and employees.
“This bill will limit abuses and provide more transparency and fiscal accountability that will benefit the residents of Florida in special taxing districts, ” Hunschofsky said.
Hunschofsky’s bill follows the action from State Rep. Dan Daley against NSID, which deals with concerns surrounding special districts.
On Wednesday, Daley wrote a letter to Chair Jason Pizzo and Vice Chair Michael Caruso of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, asking for an audit of NSID.LAC NSID Audit Request and articles (1)
In the letter, Daley said his office had received questions and complaints about NSID’s operations and actions, including threats, nepotism, cronyism, potentially illegal activities, and unethical practices.
Daley accused NSID Director Rod Colon of using a loophole in the ethics law to pay himself $240,000 in real estate commission as part of NSID property sales. He also accused Colon of hiring friends, relatives, and loved ones.
According to the letter, one accusation states Colon provided a love interest with clean urine for a drug test.
Daley also outlined accusations of NSID funds being paid to friends, relatives, and sitting NSID board members for work on the district’s behalf.
“Our public officials must be held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” he said in a statement.
Daley continued, “I am deeply concerned about the potential for further unethical practices at the North Springs Improvement District, and that is why I am calling for an investigation by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee and the State Auditor General into the actions of Rod Colon and others.”
Some of the claims addressed in the articles include professional conflicts of interest, flawed contract bidding processes, and Colon using unchecked power.
“The public has a right to know what’s happening and to be certain that their public officials are behaving in a way that is proper and appropriate,” Daley said.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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