Ethics Complaints Against Tallahassee City Commissioner Ziffer, Mayor Marks

By: Jennifer Milton/Tallahassee Reports Email
By: Jennifer Milton/Tallahassee Reports Email

Updated 5:45pm by Jennifer Milton:

"When they violate laws like this, it is absolutely unethical and they violated the trust of the public and it should be exposed," said Tim Haifley.

City of Tallahassee Utilities customer Tim Haifly has filed ethics complaints against Tallahassee Mayor John Marks and Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, alleging they violated Florida statute 112.313 7 A, which prohibits a public officer from hiring a person or agency that is employed by the city.

Neither Mayor Marks or Commissioner Ziffer have seen the complaint and they are unable to comment on the issue until the Florida Commission on Ethics completes a formal investigation.

Ziffer acknowledged that he knew Vancore Jones Communications was working for the city at the time he hired the firm. He also said, "To my knowledge, I have not broken any ethical law."

Sean Pittman with the Pittman Law Group says he was hired to work on the Mayor's campaign in 2003 which was before the firm was hired to work as a state lobbyist for the city. However, Pittman also says, he has remained as a consultant on the Mayor's campaign after the city hired him in 2005. A spokesperson for Mayor Marks was not able confirm or deny this information.

The spokesman for the Mayor did say, "The charges appear to be politically motivated, and we expect the Florida Ethics Commission to rule them as baseless and without merit."

Kerrie Spillman with the Florida Commission on Ethics says generally speaking, possible penalties range from a public reprimand, to removal from office.

The most common penalty is a civil penalty, where the commission can recommend up to 10 thousand dollars per violation--but we want to reiterate, as of now, neither man has been cited for any wrongdoing.
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Tallahassee, Florida -- March 15, 2011 - 11am --

Ethics complaints have been filed against Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer and Mayor John Marks.

Those complaints have been attached in PDF format above.

Stay with WCTV for details later today.


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  • by Mayor needs one term only Location: Tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:57 PM
    To Anon: Let me make it simple for you. Limit any city mayor to one term period only ever how long that one term is, the shorter the better. They aren't allowd to run again. Candidates get elected over and over again, becoming 20-50 year career politicians. I don't beleive they serve in the best interest of the entire community they rep. Keep fresh with change ups and ideas; give someone else a chance MORE OFTEN that bring great things to the table. The change in leadership is great for a changing city, state and nation. Think also of the taxpayer savings of salary base. Major Marks makes well above 200K; a change up in different mayors every four years, the taxpayer could lower their base salarie to under 100K. Weather I compare a city mayor with a Walmart dept. manager or not, the concept is the same. Walmart have profits to loose. Mayors don't have their own skin in the game. Big Special Interest back them the open doors for corruption to seep in. Capitol city may move to ORLorMIAMI
  • by Anonymous on Mar 16, 2011 at 10:47 AM
    There already is "A" term limit. The Mayor serves for a term of 4 years, at which time the voters can elect to vote him out. Did you not understand this. Also the Wal-mart comment is silly. Aircraft Carriers get a new Commander every fey years also, but instead of comparing the Mayor of the Florida's Capital City to a military commander, you compare him to a wal-mart manager. Like I said before, I agree that Marks needs to go, I just think that the ability to hold a Mayor to 1 term is already there, it just has to be utilized. Was your name on the ballot?
  • by Mayor needs "a" 4 year term limit Location: Tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM
    To Anonymous 3/16: WakeUp answers your questions very well. As I said, "A city's mayor should be limited to "a" 4 year term. "a" means one. Did you understand Wakup's answer re: comparing a city mayor with a Walmart Dept. Manager? Walmart knows it is in the best interest shaping solid great company policy to rotate depart. managers to avoid conflict of interst or employee favoritism. If you still don't understand, ask your 12 year old child to explain it. Yes, I would welcome a change up every four years of a new mayor with new ideas. Great for Tallahassee and small businesses who are the backbone of Florida, especially Tallahassee's economy!
  • by wakeup Location: tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 09:09 AM
    There is a small group of people that run Tallahassee and the bad thing is they continue to get voted into office or stay in their positions on boards, so really can't blame anyone but the voters. Our government is run for personal agendas. Look at the EDC, who basically is made up by local business people that are trying to bring more money into the community to benefit them. This is just not a mayor thing, or commissioner. It's bigger than that. You have developers and real estate representatives serving on the EDC trying to get business to move to Tallahassee and buy the land their developing or selling and they can make a phone call to the banking folks(EDC) to help get loans and then try to offer incentice plans to do that, yet will not even help the small business already here.....talk about a conflict...?
  • by Anonymous on Mar 16, 2011 at 08:59 AM
    Mayor needs 4 year term limit. The Mayor does serve a four year term The part you want changed is to limit the mayor to only 1 term. I bet that if the rule is changed, and we get a Mayor you like, you would want to change the rule back! You have a problem getting him out at the polls, so you want to change the law to force him out. What if we make the law limiting the Mayor, but grandfather the existing Mayor so he can serve as long as he gets re-elected. Would you still be for the change? BTW I also think it is time for Marks to go, but I don't think term limits are the way to go. Why would you compare the Mayor of a State Capital to the manager of a Wal-mart?
  • by Mayor needs 4 year term limit. Location: Tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 08:24 AM
    A city's mayor should be limited to a 4 year term. Too much funny busy is suspect if one stays too long. A city needs a fresh set of eyes that bring results in creating private sector jobs that benefit Leon Co. citizens and enhance other worthwhile projects. Mayor Marks is how old and has warmed this chair for how long? Waa....y too long. Seems forever since we had Maddox, Herman and Inman. Walmart Department Managers rotate to different store location often to avoid conflict of interst and employee favoritism. Look how sucessful they have become!
  • by if Location: fl on Mar 16, 2011 at 06:37 AM
    what do these pepole have in common vancore,pittman,yordon,book--money people for the party and campaign fund raisers, hit men for the democrats and they are good at their jobs.
  • by Just?Me Location: EdgeOfReality on Mar 16, 2011 at 05:26 AM
    Wasn't there also something about Pitts being removed from the committee reviewing how to steal the Fair Grounds because he had a conflict due to being on Bill Proctor's payroll ?
  • by Dee Location: Tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 04:35 AM
    This is Tallahassee remember? No matter what they did nothing will happen to them.
  • by SickofPolitics Location: Tallahassee on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM
    Is this the same Mayor Marks who didn't reside inside the City Limits {a condition of becoming Mayor},so one of his 1st acts as Mayor was to have the City boundary changed so that his house was now in the City, so that he didn't have to move? That Mayor Marks?
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