Let ‘good’ cities do the right thing
By Andrew Marra
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
It’s been seven months since 15 area cities sued Palm Beach County and announced they would not pay their share to support the countywide Office of Inspector General, the county’s new government watchdog. Both the lawsuit’s intent and its reasoning seemed dubious, but at least the legal action ensured that the cities’ thinly veiled resistance to new government oversight would reach some resolution.
Except that seven months have passed without any discernible progress, as the county and the cities in the lawsuit dawdle through a sporadic series of fruitless mediation sessions required before court proceedings can ensue. Little wonder then that Inspector General Sheryl Steckler on Thursday asked to become a party to the lawsuit, a move that would give her the standing needed to push the case forward. (Even though the lawsuit concerns the inspector general’s budget, the agency is not named in it).
Little wonder, too, that county officials are now asking more than two dozen of the county’s remaining cities — the ones that never objected to following the county charter and paying their share of the agency’s budget — to sign special agreements that would allow the inspector general to receive their payments. Currently, the inspector general can’t receive that money because it is being held hostage by county Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock, who claims she is legally obliged to sit on the money until the judge in the lawsuit says she can release it. For now, the county is covering the cities’ portion of the agency’s $3 million budget.