Conflicts of Interest & the Tip of the Iceberg

Council’s affirmation of the mayor’s removal of John Guio from the Plan Commission for reasons of ethics comes as no surprise. I wonder, however, if any of the aldermen get that wife Sue Guio’s former position with the city presented more in the way of potential conflicts of interest than her place on the board of Hope Haven ever has.

But I digress. What this action does is to set a precedent for an ethical cleansing, and just in time. DeKalb City Council must turn its attention to the board of the DeKalb Public Library, DKPL’s own conflicts of interest and its years-long pattern of ignoring the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act.

This will not be easy, because it is apparent most council members do not fully understand their responsibilities over this body and I’m betting city staff are not racing to tell them. The aldermen will have to insist on the discussion. Continue reading Conflicts of Interest & the Tip of the Iceberg

Ethics in the City

City Council on Monday is set to decide whether the mayor’s removal of chair John Guio from the Plan Commission for an ethics violation is proper.

You’ll have to excuse me for not believing the party line here. IMO this was a move based on politics, not ethics. Consider:

— Another Plan Commission member, Vince Frye, was allowed to poison the well on the vote for the hog slaughtering operation just a few weeks ago. No penalty.

— Alderman Ron Naylor, a retired city employee, has made some errors in discussing post-employment healthcare benefits in violation of the ordinance that sets rules for proper meeting behavior. No penalty.

— Alderman Bert Simpson blasted me for criticizing Community Enhancement commissioner Paul Rasmussen for publicly supporting the utilities burial plan without identifying himself as a former city staff member who had helped come up with the plan. Rasmussen is now a “private citizen,” the argument went, and basic ethics rules do not apply to him anymore.

Wogengate. City staff involved in under-the-radar contracts to a sitting alderman are still there. The ordinance dealing with aldermen and future contracts does not even meet state standards.

If the administration really wants to pull out an ethics yardstick at this moment, great! — but use it to measure everyone, not just political adversaries.

Link: ICMA Code of Ethics (H/T S.B.)

Ethics & the Plan Commission

DeKalb’s Plan Commission has a Code of Ethics (PDF pp. 1-2). It’s flawed, but there you go. My emphasis added.

d) Code of Ethics. Plan Commission members shall abide by a code of ethics as follows: (03-18)

1. Members shall exercise impartial and independent judgment in their roles as advisors to the City Council.

2. Members shall be adequately prepared to render thorough and diligent service and to fairly apply facts and information to the decision at hand.

3. Members shall disclose all direct personal financial interest in any proposal, project or development before the Commission and indicate any personal financial benefit that could result from a decision made by the commission. When concerned that there is a potential appearance of a conflict of interest or a public perception of conflict of interest the Commissioner should recuse him/herself from the particular proposal. When in doubt, the Commissioner may seek advice, for example, from the City Attorney, Planning Staff, other Commission members, or others to determine if a conflict or public perception of conflict might exist. Continue reading Ethics & the Plan Commission

A Discussion of Ethics

Lately I’ve been pondering questions of conflicts of interest in political life and recently declared (elsewhere) that since a certain act of omission by a certain politician made me trust him less, I knew he had made the wrong decision. I was mocked for it, I suppose because it sounds simplistic.

Short rebuttal: It is that simple. Continue reading A Discussion of Ethics