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When Ethics Codes Come From The Community
Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010
Speakers at a recent Santa Fe council meeting called the city's code of ethics for city officials and employees the result of a " meat grinder " approach of reform.
It's never easy to hear that kind of criticism, but for the hard-working and brave souls who spoke to the mayor and council this week, these were words that needed to be spoken.
A representative of the League of Women Voters reminded the officials that all voters " expect and deserve honest and ethical behavior from their public and elected officials and government employees."
Rather than waiting for the councilmembers or staff to enhance the existing code, a group of citizens offered their own "grass-roots" proposal.
It includes important basics: provide a more simple process for reporting conflicts; expand disclosure requirements; broaden the definition of conflicts of interest and how to deal with them; establish a city committee to handle enforcement --and eliminate a city ethics committee that includes councilmembers.
This reform effort came about, in part, because a councilmember admitted he purposely avoided disclosing his relationship as an attorney for a company that does business with the city.
Kudos to the community for stepping forward and speaking hard truths. I hope the mayor and council are listening.
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