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Taking The Politics Out Of Ethics Investigations

Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2010

Selecting members for an ethics board can be fraught with controversy. "Citizen" members, individuals from the community who are chosen by the city council, often face criticism for being aligned with those who appointed them. Any hint of favoritsm destroys the integrity of the board's decisions.

Following what the Atlanta Constitution-Journal  describes as "political drama surrounding an ethics investigation" of a former Milton, Georgia councilwoman, the city has adopted a new ordinance to change the makeup of the board.

The city will now choose from a group of 9 to 15 non-resident attorneys to handle ethics investigations. The board will be reduced to three members, who would be paid for each day they spend on a hearing.

There are many ways to select this important body, and one size does not fit all jurisdictions. The key, says the Georgia Municipal Association, is to remove politics from the appointment process.

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