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An Ethics Commission With Clout

Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2010

It's usually pretty difficult for an elected official to be removed from office. Unless there is a criminal indictment and conviction or a voter recall, most officeholders have a great deal of "job security."

That is, unless you serve on the Brunswick, Ohio city council. Earlier this week the council removed their colleague Anthony Capretta for a violation of the city charter.

The 5-1 vote was to uphold the city's ethics board recommendation. According to the city charter, members of the council cannot go directly to a department head to ask them to take an action. (Everything must go through the city manager.)

The councilmember called a city employee to complain about a constituent concern, which triggered the complaint and the comission hearings.

Capretta was charged with "interference with city administration," and the charter says that if the ruling of the ethics commission is upheld by the council the penalty is forfeiture of office.

As severe as this penalty may seem, it is refreshing to see a city take the charter seriously. Not all ethics commissions enjoy this level of support, and I commend the councimembers for their courageous act.

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