Rotunda on Ethics in Florida Bond Counsel Appointment Process

Palm Beach County's practice of allowing individual commissioners to appoint bond counsels is a questionable system that does not assure the public of either the avoidance of corruption or the lowest cost of services says Professor Ronald Rotunda, commenting in the Broward Daily Business Review (FL). The practice came under fire after the law firm representing the county voluntarily terminated its municipal bond counsel agreement with the county after one of its founding partners was charged with concealing a felony in a land sale.

"What you want to do is have a system where people are chosen on competence instead of who they know, and the voters would like to choose the cheapest or least expensive one," Rotunda said. "That is a better system because you want to avoid corruption, the temptation of corruption and the appearance of corruption," he continued.

Rotunda said that the commission should do a better job deciding how to spend taxpayers' money on bond counsel, commenting, "Everyone would agree that they have a competent bond counsel. I suppose you can pick one using a dartboard, but that doesn't mean it's the right pick. The county's voters would want the least expensive counsel."

Uneasy Bonds, Broward Daily Business Review, November 7, 2006. By Jaime O. Hernandez.