Love in the air? There might be a conflict

Romantic relationships and regulation should not mingle, Monroe County commissioners ruled.

On a unanimous vote preceded by a bevy of bemused japes, commissioners, meeting Wednesday in Key West, decided that two people who are romantically involved cannot serve together on certain county boards.

“We’re not establishing any kind of canoodling test,” County Attorney Bob Shillinger said this week.

The issue came up in April when a Lower Keys resident was nominated by the county’s Contractors Examining Board to fill a vacant panel seat. However, the nominee also is “the significant other” of the board chairman, who recused himself from the vote and flagged the county about a possible conflict.

“It does create appearances,” Shillinger said in April. Commissioners blocked the appointment and directed staff to clarify the relationship policy for the county’s 23 volunteer advisory boards.

On Wednesday, commissioners approved a resolution that affects 13 of the boards that have some type of regulatory authority or can recommend spending significant amounts of money.

The commission “finds that public trust in a panel’s decisions may be diminished if members were permitted to serve on that board while engaged in a romantic relationship,” says the resolution.

Acknowledging the “inherent difficulty in policing human romantic behavior,” the resolution asks affected board members to “self-police their conduct” and report possible conflicts.

“What do we do when two get on advisory board and sparks start to fly?” wondered Commissioner Heather Carruthers. “Although clearly, none of that happening up here.”

The Tourist Development Council, the Planning Commission and the Art in Public Places Committee were among the panels listed in the no-romance category.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206