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Tampa officials grapple with ethics issues

Not one lobbyist has filed forms, as required, to document a conversation with Tampa's mayor.

By DAVID KARP
Published September 19, 2003

TAMPA - Since Pam Iorio became mayor six months ago, no lobbyists have spoken to her.

None have asked her about development projects.

None have called her on the telephone.

None have sent her any e-mails or sidled up to her to talk about city business.

That, at least, is the picture revealed in the lobbyist registration forms on file in the City Clerk's Office. Not a single lobbyist has filed forms to document a conversation with Iorio.

On Thursday, the City Council passed a new, tougher ethics code, but supporters say it won't help if Iorio doesn't enforce it.

It wasn't clear what Iorio had done to make sure people followed the old law.

The mayor does not display a lobbyist registration book at her office - something done at the County Center, where Iorio worked for 18 years as a county commissioner and election supervisor.

Iorio did not return calls for comment.

City Attorney Fred Karl said he didn't know why they had not registered talks, as required.

"It ought to be enforced," Karl said. "I am sure she will set that in motion."

He said he would alert Iorio and her chief of staff to the issue.

Under the current city ethics law, lobbyists must register any conversation with the mayor, City Council members and other city officials within three days. They must register the conversation even if it took place outside City Hall.

Lobbyists include anyone paid to talk to city officials about spending public funds. That includes people, such as lawyers and company officials, who don't primarily work as lobbyists.

The ethics code puts the onus to register conversations on the lobbyist - not the public official.

"It's not her responsibility," Karl said.

But he acknowledged that as head of city government, the mayor had a duty to enforce all city ordinances, including the ethics code.

"It is something we ought to take care of," he said.

[Last modified September 19, 2003, 01:48:06]


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