Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hear! Hear! — Kudos to Jeff Sayles from a reader

Reaction to: Back In Business, Idiots, and Ethics - 10/23/09)
(http://www.deerfieldbeachusa.com/

Hear! Hear! — Kudos to Jeff Sayles from a reader
Some members of the ad hoc committee to review the ethics code of Deerfield Beach sagely nodded agreement when one member quoted the Model Code of Conduct for Court Professionals which begins with a preamble:
“SERVICE TO THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IS A PUBLIC TRUST. THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SOCIETY RESTS, IN PART, ON THE ABILITY OF THE CITIZENS TO WISELY JUDGE THE VALUE OF OUR COURTS AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIARY . . . .

CANON 1: AVOIDING IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES . . . “

It is interesting to note that those committee members who cited this canon stressed more than once ONLY the second clause of this statement. One of them also spoke of modifying our ethics legislation so that it is good for the commissioners. Another member drew reference to her manner conducting of her business as a justification for lowering the barriers in this code.
Are there different acceptable ethical standards between entertaining clients of a business for profit and those standards that must be maintained in a position of trust by elected representatives of taxpayers? This committee seems to say PERHAPS so. I suggest that they say DEFINITELY so.

The commission and this committee should be exclusively focused beyond the vague “…avoidance of APPEARANCE of impropriety in all activities. . . “? Avoiding ANY impropriety — real or suspect — is surely what’s best for the entire city — including those elected and employed to conduct its business.
Those who work hard and make sacrifices of time are to be commended for their public service NOT rewarded beyond the contracted stipend or salary. They are elected or employed NOT anointed! Their sacrifices in fulfilling the duties to SERVE for which they sought election or employment do NOT entitle them to privilege.
The Ethics Code section discussed notes all possible relationships to any person elected or hired to do business for the city and refers ONLY to certain aspects of that business. One member feels that personal rights are being abrogated by such barriers. This certainly may be the case in some instances — we cannot legislate against greed. The reality of that greed as we see it manifested today day after day is strong proof that a more stringent warning with strict enforcement is a necessity as a deterrent.
Such restriction should and MUST be considered part of the job description for our elected and employed officials.
Rather than taking a stand on ethics that will be best for the city, this committee seems to be slowly but surely moving toward mutual conciliation that will result in lowering the barriers to possible misconduct — a disservice to seeking the highest standards as well as a disregard for realities from what is happening now, and to times in our past.
One committee member, when addressed after a meeting as an able negotiator, demurred and referred to himself rather as a mediator. This was countered by underscoring the difference between the two. It is a meaningful differentiation and either course is premature with this untried legislation, is it not?

1 comment:

  1. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” This often quoted phrase was coined by Justice Louis Brandeis regarding public policy to underscore the value of honest transparency and high principles of conduct.
    The guiding principle also works in marketing, public relations, and customer service although taking a client to dinner or a round of golf is not in the same category in the private sector, is it?
    another A. Nonymous

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