Ethics stopped mattering in West Melbourne when they took the last guy there that I know for sure to have had them, former Police Chief Brian Lock, and tossed him out the door.  Council did not have the collective integrity to stand up for the chief who was boxed in by the dual role of HR manager and cop when another cop went awry of the law with a drug addiction issue.  The chief did his job and did it well.  The council was twisted up over a cop keeping a pension in those circumstances when, absent a felony conviction, nothing could take that pension away.  Lock submitted a criminal investigation report to the State Attorney who declined prosecution.  It was completely out of Lock’s hands.  Personal political considerations for council members took precedence over ethics and common sense.  Ethics died that night in Ustaville.

Then, some time later, Council Member Stephany Eley pulled the stunt of returning an old TV for a refund in a box from a set she had just purchased.  She was caught in the scam and the Chief’s replacement was missing either the ethics or the ability to conduct a proper investigation of that situation (having just been politically appointed, himself) and Eley skated out of it.  Having one of the top defense attorneys in the county for a brother certainly didn’t hurt her.

Prior to both of those, former Council Member Michael Hazelett was caught on a police radio recording threatening the budget of the department should the officer who had stopped him write the ticket for the traffic violation that brought him to the officer’s attention.  

Before that, Chief Lock had been directed to fire an employee for the employee’s support of a political candidate in the city.  How much could the city stomp on an employee’s rights, anyway?  If I recall, the threat was to remove the employee or Lock would be gone.  We see now what happened.

Now, Vice Mayor John Tice has been arrested on charges that he defrauded a charitable organization and the citizens of Melbourne while he was affiliated with that charity.  In Tuesday’s Florida Today Tice was quoted as writing to City Council, “ These charges have nothing to do with my work as a member of the City Council, or my duties as Deputy Mayor…I believe that it is in the best interest of the City that I resign my position as Deputy Mayor at this time.  I will continue to serve as a member of the City Council, as elected by the good people of West Melbourne.”

I believe Tice is partly right- apparently acting ethically or with integrity has nothing to do with being a member of West Melbourne’s council!  A mayor or vice mayor is nothing more than a member of council with an equal vote.  If Tice is qualified to hold one, he is certainly qualified to hold the other.  That he feels entitled to stay in the job in any capacity is indicative of the problem we have with politicians in Brevard.  They are held to no standard, and even after egregious behavior, they are heralded as community leaders.  See: Palm Shores, mayor salary from CRA when illegal and who paid it back!

No, ethics and integrity have disappeared from West Melbourne and Ustaville is now the town that used to have them, but…

…those days are gone.

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