Sunday, October 21, 2012

ZAP! #104: Edited Ethics

ZAP! #104

     Staff of the CCR wants to be the first in line -- should the city manager decide to hire a copy editor to review materials required for city council evaluation -- to apply for the job.  And we’ll work cheap...just $161,000/year.

     Apparently, there has been a considerable amount of discussion by the council to revamp/re-create/enforce a much broader city of Irving Ethics Policy.  Staff of the CCR thinks this is a good idea, even though one would wish that those who serve the public interest wouldn’t need such a document.  But then, we dream a lot.  

     Regardless, the council’s draft ethics policy has been batted about, revisions have been made -- then deleted, and $28,000 paid to a local law firm to coddle this document.  In our books, that’s a lot of coddling.  The newly revised ethics policy has now been shortened (currently by an unknown person or persons) from about 26 pp. to just 6 pp. for council review.  (Guess the revised policy will make it okay to steal the china ware, but the kitchen sink is off limits.  Something had to be eliminated.) 

    Here’s the thorny issue.  Study the Before and After copies of the council’s ethics policy draft.  Can you spot the difference?  Does something just jump off the page?  Does the After draft leave something weighty to be considered?

PURPOSE:  (City of Irving Ethics Policy)
BEFORE editing
“...and for their appointed board, commission and special committee members, along with City staff, contractors and consultants.”
AFTER editing
“….and for their appointed board, commission and special committee members, contractors and consultants.”

     SPOILER ALERT:  No, the correct answer is not that the After sentence is shorter!  City staff has been eliminated from the current proposed ethics document draft that was recently sent to the council for their review.  While we know this error probably will be noticed by some august member of this body later on (we hope), we would like to see that an omission of this magnitude is properly identified and corrected.  It would also be beneficial to know who thought this might be a good idea to change the wording and leave city staff out of this latest version.  Shouldn’t city staff be held accountable to the same ethical standards as elected representatives?

     Considering all the issues that have been swirling around city hall lately -- the millions of bucks spent to cover poor decisions and sporting venue tickets found under the front door mat of an employee -- Irving citizens deserve, at the very least, the assurances that those working in the public interest have a sense of knowing what is right or wrong when it comes to city affairs and business dealings.  Shamefully, some folks may not have had these lessons imparted while growing up.

     When the ethics edit-culprit is identified, would someone confiscate their blue edit pencil.  The city doesn’t need any additional red marks on their report card for errors of omission.

......................Mark Holbrook