Mary McCarty's Fall from Grace
Given the state of affairs in scandal-rich Palm Beach County, perhaps the coincidence was inevitable. On the January day when county leaders gathered to sign an “ethics pledge,” the news broke that another county commissioner was resigning and would plead guilty to a federal corruption charge.
A worker removes a portrait of former Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty. [Photo: Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post/Newscom]
The McCarty scam pushes back even further the prospects of a new hotel at the convention center, which has suffered from a lack of nearby hotel rooms. “There’s a huge need for it. We’ve lost a lot of events because we simply don’t have the hotel property within a half-mile of the convention center,” says Jorge Pesquera, CEO of the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
But the area could suffer more than lost convention revenue if businesses come to see it as a pay-to-play county. “If I was a business looking to relocate and I saw the playing field wasn’t level, I would go elsewhere,” says Marty Rogol, owner of Marketing Concepts in West Palm Beach. “From a business perspective, this is a very important issue.”
That’s why Rogol, ethics chairman for Leadership Palm Beach County and its immediate past president, and a group he gathered devised the ethics pledge, which McCarty, incidentally, took before her fall.
“The pledge to us,” says Rogol, “is the beginning of the shifting of the culture.”