At the Center
Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
The following postings have been filtered by category Government Ethics
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Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 2:00 PM
While the state of Washington allows government officials to accept free travel and events, the amount and nature of travel by the state's attorney general are raising eyebrows. "Rob McKenna has accepted $184,000 worth of free travel and events since becoming attorney general in January 2005," according to the Seattle Times. Several trips were paid for by conservative political groups.
Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler commented for the Times: "When you take an oath of office, you vow to put the public interest first....Political trips or trips paid for by a political party or to rub elbows to advance a political career are inappropriate," she said. "There's a fine line between being an officeholder and being a candidate. You are supposed to be doing the public's job."
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 10:55 AM
Twenty states have laws against making false campaign statements, but if Ohio is a typical example, the law is not stringently enforced. "In the last decade, the commission has not referred a single case involving a false statement to a county prosecutor," according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Interviewed for the article, Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler, talked about the effect of unchecked lying on the political process: "The problem is that this leads to an eroding of people's confidence in government. People throw up their hands and say, 'I don't believe any of them,' and it decreases voter registration and turnout."
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 12:27 PM
In a panel discussion that focused on the presidential election after the first debate, Kirk O. Hanson, Center executive director, analyzed the ethical issues that arise in a high pressure campaign. He was joined by Terry Christensen, Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University, and Barbara Marshman, Editorial Pages Editor, San Jose Mercury News. John Zipperer, Vice President of Media and Editorial, The Commonwealth Club, the program sponsor, was the moderator.
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 4:00 PM
An editorial in the Orange County Register explores the failure of President Obama's cabinet to respond to Freedom of Information requests from Bloomberg for information on the secretaries' travel. Interviewed for the piece, Ethics Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler said,
Transparency is the most important thing the government can engage in to enhance public trust. One of the things the president mandated on coming into office was acting promptly on FOIA requests. This is of concern because it should not be difficult for people to see what's going on in government. The FOIA was put in place for people to know what's going on in terms of spending and policy.
When officials fail to respond to FOI requests, Nadler continued,
The default position for many people is that the officials must be hiding something. I don't know if that's true. But the lack of disclosure is troubling, whether it's a city council member or a Cabinet member. The public has a right to know.
Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 4:33 PM
Ann Ravel, chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, speaks on the ethics of political campaigning at Santa Clara University Oct. 5 from noon-1 in the Weigand Room of the Arts and Sciences Building.
Prior to her appointment as commission chair, Ravel served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Torts and Consumer Litigation in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice.
Most of her career was as an attorney in the Santa Clara County Counsel's Office, ultimately serving as the appointed County Counsel from 1998 until 2009. As County Counsel, she represented the County and its elected officials, providing advice on the Political Reform Act.
After Ravel's public lecture, she will meet with the Ethics Center's Public Sector Roundtable, a group of locally elected and appointed officials who address ethical issues in government
Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 12:20 PM
The Santa Clara Valley Water District is the latest in a group of California special districts to draw press scrutiny for its spending of taxpayer dollars. An NBC Bay Area news segment reports that members of the Water District Board collected fees for attending meetings that had, at best, a dubious connection to the business of the district. Member Patrick Kwok, for example, took fees to attend the city of Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce awards, San Jose State University’s Engineering Banquet Awards, and the Asian Pacific Resources Group Lunar New Year luncheon.
To Kwok's claim that the charges were reasonable because constituents might approach him at these meetings about Water District issues, Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler responded:
The presumption that when you go out in the public someone will, A) Recognize you are a water board member and B) will have a pressing issue that they want to discuss at a social event, I think it’s actually unlikely. You are not necessarily paid to show up, you are paid to do your job.
If the gist of the discussion is not at all about water issues I would question why you would be in attendance.
Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 4:35 PM
Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 5:09 PM
Go back to basics. That's the advice from Judy Nadler, Markkula Center senior fellow in government ethics, for cities facing tight budgets or even insolvency.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch, she recommends:
1. Spend only what you can afford.
2. Be realistic about what you need, versus what you want.
3. Consolidate, cooperate, and collaborate.
4. Create, strengthen, and maintain a culture of ethics.
5. Recommit to the importance of public service.
Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2012 3:26 PM
The shut-down of California's Redevelopment Agencies this year has left cities scrambling to make up the budget shortfalls created by the drying up of redevelopment money from the state. The demise of RDA was one factor in the recent bankruptcy of San Bernardino.
On August 3, 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.,the Center's Public Sector Roundtable will focus on "Ethics in a Post-RDA California." The Roundtable brings city councilmembers, mayors, city managers, and other public officials together to discuss current challenges in government ethics. If you would like to attend, contact Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, May. 30, 2012 1:23 PM
Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler addressed a class of executives, wardens, and other high-level employees of local, state, and federal facilities, last week at the National Institute of Corrections workshop on executive excellence.
Nadler discusses some of the challenges facing corrections leaders on her blog Her Honor.