On Tuesday February 2, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance by Commissioner Javier D. Souto which amends the County's Code of Ethics to require that the Mayor and every County Commissioner receive a copy of the latest version of Miami-Dade County's Code of Ethics prior to his or her swearing in ceremony. As part of the ceremony, each Commissioner would then sign a sworn affidavit attesting under oath that he or she has read the Code of Ethics and agrees to abide by the Code at all times in carrying out his or her duties. Commissioners Sally A. Heyman and Rebeca Sosa were co-sponsors to the ordinance.
"This is an extremely high standard of ethics and a Commissioner who later breached any provision of the Code of Ethics would place himself or herself in a precarious position; there will be no claim of ignorance or of lack of knowledge as to the Standard of Ethics, with a signed affidavit attesting to the contrary on file as part of the oath of office," said Commissioner Souto. "I am willing to sign such a document and adhere to my sworn oath to abide by our Code of Ethics, knowing the consequences of breaching this oath."
Commissioner Souto affirms that this law is another step in attempting to restore public confidence in government. "I have introduced several measures in the past several months and will continue with these efforts to reform our government and restore the faith and belief of the taxpayers; we are public servants and our mission is to serve the needs of our community," added Commissioner Souto.
"However, I truly believe that we won't restore public trust in their elected officials and in the Administrators that run our government without opening the inner-workings and decision making process in our government to public scrutiny," stated Commissioner Souto. "Without real transparency and accountability, the public will continue with their lack of confidence in government and in their elected officials. Government is not a private business and the dollars used to operate the government, to pay very handsome salaries and benefits, and to award very lucrative multi-million dollar contracts are tax dollars, and because it is the people's money we have to open the government to greater public scrutiny than you would expect in a private corporation."
Commissioner Souto believes one of the fallouts of the collapse in Wall Street and the banking and real-estate industry is that people no longer take for granted where they spend their money and particularly how their tax dollars are being spent or misspent. "Just as these multibillion dollar conglomerates are discovering that times are changing and their shareholders are demanding more accountability, so too has change began to take root in government," further explained Commissioner Souto. "Either we listen to the people and work with them to change and evolve or change will be forced upon us. I for one will continue to work with the people to introduce measures for government reform."