Hiring former commissioner ‘dead issue’

Published: Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM.

In an about face the Gulf County Board of Commissioners said it would leave it to the local RESTORE committee to decide when and how they would hire outside expertise as the RESTORE Act process moves forward

Commissioners had twice voted to move ahead with hiring former commissioner Bill Williams in some capacity, but county attorney Jeremy Novak said during Tuesday’s regular meeting that hiring Williams would present some prohibitions.

Novak said he received an advisory opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics pertaining to the issue of hiring Williams, who left office last month, to work for the BOCC in some capacity as a resource/lobbyist for the RESTORE Act.

Williams, as an officer with Florida Association of Counties, has been a key local player in the RESTORE Act and at his final meeting last month Commissioner Carmen McLemore moved, and the full board approved, moving ahead with hiring Williams.

At the last BOCC meeting, Williams’ successor in the District 3 seat, Joanna Bryan, had attempted to halt the attorney exploring the options in hiring Williams but her motion died due to a 2-2 vote among board members present.

Novak said the Ethics Commission wrote that the county could hire Williams to work for the county, but that there were strict prohibitions against Williams representing a third party before the BOCC or lobbying for the county outside the county for the next two years.

“He can not lobby on the county’s behalf,” Novak said.

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