Friday, August 24, 2012

Need for a Stronger Ethics Ordinance

Letter to the Editor
Cecil Whig
November 29, 2011

“The Ethics Process will only work if it is enforced.”
This was the comment made by our current Chairman of the Ethics Commission, Michael Burns, and I agree. In 2011 there were 12 who never filed a required disclosure form and I support Mr. Burn’s recommendation that we remove those serving on boards that fail to file and ignore repeated requests. What motivation is there to file disclosures if there is no penalty?

I would also propose: 1. Department Directors file the same disclosure requirements as elected officials, 2. Appointments to committees file the same disclosure requirements as in 2011 rather than no disclosures at all, 3. Ethics Board Members file the same disclosure requirements as proposed for appointments, and 4. County Commissioners are informed when an initial complaint is filed to ensure the complaint has been addressed in a timely manner. (Details of the complaint should not be disclosed unless there is a finding of guilt.)

In my opinion these are reasonable requests that are vital to the integrity of the ethics process. I was somewhat surprised by the comments of Commissioner Hodge: “We have a responsibility to not request this information” or "Sometimes people would like to keep their personal information personal.“ And Commissioner Moore asked, “How would this make someone a better committee member?“ My answer is that transparency helps keep everyone honest.