Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Duncan Resigns from Yes for Greenlight: One Small Win for Integrity

Ronnie Duncan announced he is resigning from Yes for Greenlight.
Facing mounting pressure from Tea Party groups who accused him of acting unethically, one of the leaders of a campaign to pass a transit tax referendum in Pinellas announced on Wednesday that he is resigning.

Ronnie Duncan, a former Pinellas commissioner and the chairman of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, said he's leaving his post as co-chair of the Yes for Greenlight campaign, which he helped launch earlier this month to support a referendum that would raise Pinellas' sales tax to pay for mass transit.
Which Ronnie Duncan?
It was not just Tea Party groups.  What made Duncan think he could get away with this? Anyone with any sense of transparency and ethics could spot his conflict of interest a mile away.   The Tampa Tribune editorial page also called for him to step down from Yes for Greenlight, as did many others.

Duncan should still resign from TBARTA.  The damage has been done.  His actions raise significant doubt about his abilities to lead TBARTA in an impartial way and he has tainted TBARTA's mission across the seven counties in the Tampa Bay area they are serving.

In a related turn of events, Tucker Hall, the PR firm hired by both Greenlight Pinellas and Yes for Greenlight, was dropped by Yes for Greenlight, again for putting themselves in a similar conflict of interest of serving two masters.  From the Times:
In response to similar concerns over public perception, Yes for Greenlight has also severed ties with Tucker Hall, the Tampa-based public relations firm it brought on to manage nearly every aspect of the campaign. Tucker Hall was first hired over a year ago by Pinellas County's transit agency to design its more than $400,000 public education campaign for the transit referendum.

Ultimately, the fact that the company had worked on the public campaign — which, by law, had to maintain a neutral position on the referendum — and was orchestrating the private advocacy campaign, worried Yes for Greenlight's leaders. It also fueled the referendum's opponents, who have complained for months that the public education component was little more than a poorly disguised advocacy campaign.
Yes for Greenlight's remaining leader, Chris Steinocher, stated
"There was no legal problem, but it was the same perception of conflict," Steinocher said. "Part of this was the notion of: let's make sure that how we're running the campaign doesn't become the story."
They tried to sneak one in and got caught.  If poor ethics and conflict of interest were not enough of a problem, one misstatement from Duncan and they would be welcoming legal problems.

You can read our previous posts related to this topic  
Call for Ronnie Duncan, Chairman of TBARTA, to resign from TBARTA
Ronnie Duncan, who's your master?
Connect Tampa Bay Avoids Integrity
At least someone called Duncan out this time, and it did make a little difference.

Lesson learned?  Call them out, and let transparency and integrity win.

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