Tallahassee Chamber Censures Commissioner Jeremy Matlow

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Chamber of Commerce leaders voted to censure City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow after he penned a blistering column criticizing the annual conference set to happen next month and linking it to an ongoing public corruption trial.

The Chamber’s executive committee voted Friday to express disapproval not only of Matlow’s column, which appeared Friday on Tallahassee.com, but what it called a pattern of “misdeeds” and a violation of his oath of office.

“This serious, critical and unprecedented action is a direct response to Mr. Matlow’s outrageous pattern of egregious comments and irresponsible behavior that consistently disserve the community and represent a betrayal of the sacred public trust expected of elected officials,” the committee wrote in a letter sent out Friday. “(He) engages in such incorrigible behavior merely to score undeserved political points by attempting to tarnish the reputations and integrity of good citizens and of the Chamber itself.”

Matlow’s column took aim at the annual conference and those who attend it in Amelia Island as an example of the environment where corruption becomes rampant and where the FBI first made inroads in its extortion and bribery case against for City Commissioner Scott Maddox and local entrepreneur and hotelier John “J.T.” Burnette.

He used the backdrop of the sale of two parcels of city-owned land downtown and Burnette’s ongoing trial, in which Burnette and Maddox both testified last week about the inner workings of huge development projects and the influence of money and political capital.

“Tallahassee must dispel its reputation as a place that is pro-business only for the well connected,” he wrote. “If we miss this moment, I fear the next generation of talent will look elsewhere for a fair shake when it comes to support from the business community and local government.”

In response to the Chamber’s letter and vote to censure him, Matlow told the Democrat: “Tallahassee deserves better. I was elected by the people of Tallahassee and that’s who I work for. Chamber members should demand more from their leadership.”

Chamber calls censure a first in its history

Chamber leaders in the letter called the censure a first in the nearly 100-year history of the organization. They said Matlow had broken the public’s trust through his attacks on business and community leaders and the group’s President and CEO Sue Dick, who was named in the column.

“As justice continues to unfold at the Federal Courthouse in Tallahassee about the corruption scandal that is at trial, Mr. Matlow abused his position of authority in an ill-fated and shallow effort to broad-brush, bruise and taint upstanding local people who are not on trial,” the executive committee wrote. “We urge Mr. Matlow to take an honest look at the low caliber of character he is presenting to the community under the guise of providing leadership and live up to the oath of office he swore to our community.”