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Quincy commissioner filed ethics complaint against mayor

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By Alice Du Pont

    Quincy City Commissioner Keith Dowdell has filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Mayor Derrick Elias. The complaint was signed by Dowdell on March 27, the same date that he asked Elias to resign as mayor.
    The complaint lists seven actions, that Dowdell described as "irresponsible actions" by Mayor D. Elias:
    City Clerk Sylvia Hicks, said this is the first time a commissioner had filed a complaint with the Commission on Ethics against another commissioner.
    The Commission on Ethics has the authority to review and investigate possible breaches of the public trust (violations of the State's ethics laws) by public officers, public employees, and similar persons involved with state and local government in Florida, including executive branch lobbyists.
    The commission follows a three-stage process when it considers complaints.
    The first stage is a determination of whether the allegations of the complaint are legally sufficient, that is, whether the complaint indicates a possible violation of any law over which the commission has jurisdiction. If the complaint is found not  to be legally sufficient, the commission will order that the complaint be dismissed without investigation and all records relating to the complaint will become public at that time.
    If the complaint is found to be legally sufficient, the investigative staff of the commission will begin an investigation. The second stage of the commission's proceedings involves the investigation of the complaint and a decision by the Commission of whether there is probable cause to believe there has been some violation of any of the ethics laws. If the commission finds that there is no probable cause to believe there has been a violation of the ethics laws, the complaint will be dismissed and will become at that time.
    If the commission find that there is probable to believe there has been a violation of the ethics laws, the complaint become public and enters the third stage of the proceedings. The third stage requires that the commission decide whether the law violated and, if so, what penalty should be recommended. The stage requires a public hearing (trial) at which time evidence will be presented.