Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Star: Council Needs To Get Serious About Ethics Reform

"Council needs to be bold and swift in strengthening ethical standards." That's the advice Star editorial writers give to the Indianapolis City-County Council today. Apparently the council thinks a proposed ordinance, which is a slap at the former counsel to the council, Aaron Haith, is enough. That proposal bars the counsel from advising counsel members on private matters. Never mind that the Rules of Professional Conduct already govern such matters and Haith is being investigated for violating those rules. Councilor Benjamin Hunter thinks statement of economic interests should be posted online. That's fine, but they have been posted online for several months now after some of us complained about the fact they weren't online. The council simply wants to throw a bone at us, pretending it is doing something about ethics reform when it really is doing nothing.

As a candidate, Greg Ballard offered some good ethic reform ideas. I've suggested some ideas here. After political insiders took over his transition team, those ideas quickly got lost in the shuffle and the mayor begins his new administration without any ethics improvements. If the new administration is serious about ethics reform, Mayor Ballard should have issued an executive order on day one of his administration making it clear how he expected members of his administration to conduct the affairs of government. The Star wants a ban on public employees serving as members of the council. It's a recommendation of the Kernan-Shepard Commission and, arguably, is already required by our state's constitution. The Star tells the council to be "bold in delivering the message that times have changed" in implementing ethics reform. I second that recommendation.

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