A possible conflict of interest has brought scrutiny to the business practices of the former executive director of South Florida’s water management district. Just days after the former director resigned her position, other officials began speculating on why a company owned by a colleague of hers managed to beat out a world-class company for a lucrative business contract in the Florida area. The business dispute is now being more closely analyzed.
The relationship between the former director and the owner of the billboard company that was awarded a contract to build billboards on district land is a matter of public record. They are former joint-owners of a separate company, and have close ties to a political party in Florida. However, should it become clear that favoritism was showed as a result of this partnership, it could lead to more serious charges.
The implications of this issue cannot be overstated. The suggestion being forwarded by lawmakers is that a last-minute law may have been enacted in order to allow for the company owned by the director’s former partner to beat out more capable companies for the lucrative billboard contract. If this proves to be true, it purportedly represents a corrupt practice that goes beyond the realm of a business dispute.
Ethical business is at the core of the American way of life. Here in Florida, laws and statutes are in place to ensure that excellence in business is rewarded. A business dispute like this one runs contrary to the healthy spirit of competition that forms the framework of progressive capitalism. It will be important for the parties in charge of the investigation to carefully review all aspects of this case in order to determine where best business practices were not observed.
Source: The Palm Beach Post, “Lawyers want water district’s Meeker deposed on billboard contract,” Christine Stapleton, May 25, 2013