Friday, October 11, 2019

Will Our Code of Ethics Be Strengthened?

Two points today. First, I was keenly interested in this week's Richardson City Council meeting because it was the goal-setting meeting that every council undertakes near the beginning of their term. I wanted to know if the council would undertake to strengthen our Code of Ethics after former Mayor Laura Maczka's bribery trial revealed how toothless the current one is. We have new council members, some of whom explicitly said during their campaigns that it is necessary to review and strengthen the Code of Ethics. I wanted to see what goals they would set related to that.

More selfishly, I wanted to know whether I could discern whether they read my opinion on the matter, which I laid out in an op-ed, "Building Trust", published here and in "Richardson Living" magazine. Adopting my suggestions would be great, reasoned rebuttal would be reluctantly respected, but ignoring the subject yet again would be maddening. Given that all candidates answered a question on this topic, I wanted to see how many would live up to their statements. Here's how I summarized their stances:
Three of the winning candidates, DePuy (or Barrios if he wins the run-off), Kepner, and Hutchenrider, are on record calling for a review of the Code of Ethics that failed us during the Maczka/Palisades scandal. DePuy and Kepner are on record calling for changes. Hutchenrider calls only for a review and hasn't necessarily committed to strengthening it before a review is completed. Bob Dubey and Mark Solomon have rejected the need for changes. That leaves Steve Mitchell and Mayor Paul Voelker to state their position. This election was anything but a change election, but we're close to a majority of the City Council recognizing that the old way of running things failed us and is in need of change. Three is not yet enough, but it's a little something to celebrate and build on.
Source: The Wheel.
That brings me to my second point. I don't know what happened at Monday's City Council meeting. I didn't attend. I planned to watch the recorded video. The city records its council meetings now, you know. But not this one. There is no video for me to review. When I went to find it, it was conspicuously missing.

Here, I have to reluctantly admit that my memory failed me. This isn't the first time I've been tripped up on this very matter. The exact same thing happened in 2013. I was irritated then. Rereading what I wrote six years ago ("The Whole World is Watching. Not Any More."), I believe I could write the same things today, almost word for word. And I'm irritated again (I'd say irritated still if I hadn't forgotten this episode due to that failing memory).

What's it going to take to get the Richardson City Council to agree to video record *all* city council meetings? Not most, but all. Obviously, relying on my memory to raise the issue next time is not a good plan. Maybe one of the city council members can take some action now, when it's a timely matter, to do something to get this to be strict city policy, not just a habit we can omit now and then when setting up equipment is inconvenient. I don't want to get irritated yet again at what I consider to be an unnecessary, uncaring sin of omission in what otherwise has been good progress on transparency of local government.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

A reader points out something else for me to be irritated about. Like I said, I planned to watch the recorded video, so I didn't pay attention to when the goals meeting was held. It turns out that the agenda specifies the start time as "IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE OCTOBER 7, 2019 6:00 P.M. WORK SESSION." In other words, even if I decided to attend in person, I'd have only a vague notion when the goals meeting was going to start. 6:30? 7:00? 7:30? Who knows? It was a separate meeting, in an unusual place, with no video planned, and with a vague start time. The reader found it infuriating. Maybe I was too polite only saying I was irritated.