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Preston Scott: It may be legal, but is it right?

Preston Scott: It may be legal, but is it right?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Preston Scott is host of “The Morning Show with reston Scott” on WFLA-FM (100.7).  Contact him at preston@wflafm.com.

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6:01 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |  Written By Preston Scott, My View

Re: “Maddox answers critics” (news article, July 8).

I appreciate the Tallahassee Democrat’s bringing to light some of the financial deals that Scott Maddox engaged in while mayor. However, space may have made it impossible to illuminate the whole story. So, I would like to offer some additional facts and comments.

When former City Commissioner and Mayor Penny Herman came on “The Morning Show” and the hour was wrapping up, my producer informed me during the commercial break that Maddox was holding on the phone. He was offered a full one hour to answer questions and offer any explanation or rebuttal. He was told that he was welcome to the “two minutes” we had until the top of the hour news, or he could take a full one hour that week or as soon as possible. He chose to take the two minutes. (For the record, he has not responded to invitations to come on the show, which stand if he is willing to answer questions. We also offered to have him come on the program to discuss the issues with Herman, face-to-face. He has not responded to that offer either.)

Democrat reporter Jeff Burlew wrote that “Maddox called in to defend himself.” I wish that were the case. I do not think I am getting caught up in semantics. The first thing I asked Maddox was whether any of the facts given by Herman were incorrect. He stated, yes. When I asked him what facts were wrong, he immediately pivoted and attacked Herman. He never defended himself.

That is a very important distinction. Citizens of Tallahassee can decide for themselves what it all means. I do not know whether Maddox’s land deals were legal or not. But, like the case involving former state Rep. Ray Sansom (a Republican, I might add), just because it’s legal does not make it right.

Additionally, it should be pointed out that the biggest issue is that Maddox had a chance to support meaningful ethics reform when he was mayor. He chose not to, calling the idea “another layer of bureaucracy.”

I think it matters greatly that Maddox never once revealed on his financial disclosures in question that his company was doing real estate deals that would eventually profit his company more than $1 million. He listed other types of business, just not real estate.

Maddox accuses some of wanting to “take over City Hall.” It is, in fact, just the opposite. Go back through the laundry list from ADE to Honeywell to “deferred compensation” and now these dealings of Maddox while he served as mayor. It often seems to be the same people, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes not, who have an “in.”

It is about getting more people from the outside to join sitting Commissioner Gil Ziffer, who appears to want to do things differently at City Hall.

Peter Schweizer authored a book called “Throw Them All Out.” It pointed out that members of the U.S. Congress had an amazing “knack” for beating the stock market, including some of the most successful hedge fund managers. He chronicled the remarkable success and wealth of congressional members. Schweizer’s book led to a “60 Minutes” story and changes in the law (though watered down).

Citizens must wrestle with their own conscience on how appropriate it is to not disclose what one does, in part, for a living (in this case real estate), or to vote on issues impacting property, then buy and sell that same property for massive profits. The sycophants on message boards do not matter.

It’s up to voters to decide whether the land deals, often very successful land deals, are just more examples, this time locally, of the need for ethics reform or not. It seems that we know where Maddox stands on the issue — just “another layer of bureaucracy.”

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