Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ethics Reform is Coming to City Council*

* Dallas City Council.

Regular readers will know how I've been recommending that Richardson's Code of Ethics get strengthened since the embarrassment of the tenure of Mayor Laura Maczka, convicted of bribery and tax fraud and awaiting sentencing. OK, I've been screaming for it, although the City Council, in its infinite wisdom, has taken a status quo ante attitude that there's no trouble here in River City.

I was pleased to see that the City of Dallas, with even greater problems than Richardson, is taking an important step to combatting public corruption. D Magazine has the details.

The Dallas City Council is weighing several proposals aimed at beefing up the city’s ethics code.

The biggest recommendation from an ethics task force that Mayor Eric Johnson convened two years ago is the creation of a “division of the inspector general,” an office—with subpoena power—that would look into ethics complaints. If anything shady is discovered, it would “prosecute alleged or suspected violations; recommend settlement agreements; or dismiss where appropriate.”

Tim Powers, head of the ethics reform task force, told me over the summer that having such a “cop on the beat” would help keep city officials on their best behavior.

“You’re always going to have somebody that runs off the reservation,” Powers said then. “We need to be able to find that [unethical activity] before or while it’s occurring as opposed to after it’s occurred.”

Just in the last several years, two former City Council members have pleaded guilty to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. There have been much less egregious cases that exist in a grey area a revamped ethics code could help clarify.

The devil remains, as it usually does, in the details. It’s unclear, for example, how much an inspector general’s office would cost. Few people at City Hall would disagree, however, that reforms are welcome.

Source: D Magazine.

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