Wednesday, April 6, 2011

County Council Passes Ethics Code

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Squeaky clean since 2011.
  • Squeaky clean since 2011.

In some positive news coming from Cuyahoga County, the new county council passed a piece of legislation last night that will actually try to instill some ethics into the government process. No seriously. Come on, stop laughing. I’ll wait here all day . . .

The new ordinance passed 10-0, according to the Plain Dealer. New ethics guidelines were a central task of the new council. The frosh legislators have been working out the details with Executive Ed FitzGerald since taking office. It includes new requirements for employees drawing county checks and businesses contracting with the government.

The PD's Harlan Spector sums up the reforms nicely (we’ve added our own details, just as a reminder):

The ordinance forbids the hiring of relatives [ahem, Bill Mason, Frank Russo], requires county officials and employees to disclose potential conflicts of interest and requires staff members and those doing business with the county to sign ethics statements [Jimmy Dimora, J. Kevin Kelley, Kevin Payne, Samir Mohammad, et al]. Contractors and lobbyists [Steven Pumper, Ferris Kleem, Todd Gemma, et al] must register with the inspector general, a newly appointed position, and they are forbidden from giving anything of value to employees, or from making campaign contributions [Everyone].

Interestingly, the new ordinance is mum on the question of tiki hunts. More on that later.

The vote reportedly came after a "dust up" between council prez C. Ellen Connally and FitzGerald over the as-yet-undefined role of Nailah Byrd, the county's newly-appointed inspector general.

Connally protested a provision calling for the inspector general to report possible ethics code violations to outside agencies, saying, "We don't know what this person is going to do."

"It could cost the constitutional rights and rights of privacy of the citizens," Connally said. "I have real concerns about this. We have got to set up this department."

Hm. It's interesting that Connally's now taking an interest in the constitutional rights of citizens; only a couple months ago she was telling reporters "leadership is not the public's business." She obviously doesn't carry around a pocket copy of the constitution, like Dennis.

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