Judge Orders Palladeno and City to Release Ethics Complaints
City illegally kept the complaints secret and hidden from public view
During the past year seven complaints were filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, an arm of the state’s Attorney General Office dedicated to investigating public corruption.
The Court’s Ruling
Judge Jack Day ruled in favor of the plaintiffs (two residents of Madeira Beach) and against the Mayor and Commissioners of the city. Here is what the judge wrote:
I have considered the parties’ post-hearing submissions along with all other materials submitted in addition to the arguments offered at trial.
I have considered all of the exemptions invoked by the defense.
Therefore, I request Plaintiffs’ counsel to provide [the court] with an appropriate and concise proposed judgment for Plaintiffs… for me to enter [into the public record].
The plaintiffs expect the city will post the full text of each of the complaints on its web site so that all citizens will be informed about the behavior of those persons under investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission. The ethics complaints involve the following city personnel:
- Mayor Travis Palladeno
- City Manager Shane Crawford
- Administrative Assistant Sheryl McGrady
- Building Inspector Frank Desantis
- City Commissioner Pat Shontz (Deceased)
The Florida Ethics Commission and the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board have received additional complaints against City Manager Crawford for his outside business interests. The Florida Ethics Commission has received a complaint against former Commissioner Housh Ghovaee for failing to file an accurate Statement of Financial Interests.
Crawford was expelled for life from the International City/County Management Association in September 2016 for violating its code of ethics. Here is what the ICMA concluded:
- Crawford has been involved in a personal relationship with a city staff member – his executive assistant. Consistent with past decisions, the Executive Board concluded that it is highly inappropriate for a city manager to have a personal relationship with a subordinate employee.
- Such a relationship exposes the organization to liability; creates the potential for conflicts of interest in fact and/or appearance stemming from personnel decisions made with regard to the employee; and can strain the professional relationships between the city manager and employees and between employees. This conduct violates the integrity standard outlined in Tenet 3 of the ICMA Code of Ethics.
- Crawford recommended position advancements and salary increases for the employee that were ultimately approved by the city commission. Since Mr. Crawford and the employee reside together and share a bank account, the Executive Board found that Mr. Crawford reaped a financial benefit from his actions. This constitutes a violation of Tenet 12 which states that members shall not leverage their position for personal gain or benefit.