Slapping Paint on the Wreck of JaCo Legislators’ Ethics – Day 79 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

I’ve been told by those who know a lot about these things that the Jackson County Legislature is going to make changes to the Ethics Ordinance. They will refuse, however, to bring themselves under the oversight of the Jackson County Ethics Commission, as required by the Jackson County Charter. All this will happen after a new Ethics Commission is chosen, the timing being a petulant gesture of classless disrespect to the prior Commission.

Like crooked car dealers, they’re going to try to slap a coat of paint on the wreck, and try to sell it as fixed.

While it’s a slimy, sneaky, cynical tactic intended to fool inattentive citizens into thinking they’ve done the right thing, I could not be happier that they may be dumb enough to give it a try. Bogus “improvements” to the Ethics Code will backfire on the Legislature, and may save the political careers of those legislators smart enough to abandon the majority.

As an advocate of ethical government, I am thrilled that the Jackson County Legislature will bring this issue up again, for a fresh round of publicity and attention. I’ve talked and corresponded with several of them, and they have absolutely no defense for their refusal to accept Ethical Home Rule. “Double jeopardy” is the best argument they have, but it holds no water, and nobody is going to feel sorry when those who begged for our votes whine about the terms of their office.

Will a fresh ordinance that excludes Ethical Home Rule pass unanimously? I think the leadership might be in for a surprise. Why would anyone but the most arrogant and recalcitrant hack vote again to create a bright shining issue for the 2010 election? Why not distinguish yourself from the “Go along to get along” corruption on the County Legislature, and inoculate yourself from those who will be running on a pro-Ethics platform in 2010? A new ordinance will give the good legislators an opportunity to distance themselves from the bad ones. If certain political clubs weigh in by tying support for Ethical Home Rule to their endorsements, voting with the anti-Ethical majority will be too much obedience to expect.

Revisiting the Ethics Ordinance without accepting local oversight demonstrates an electoral death wish. Fortunately, our Jackson County Legislature may be dumb enough to blunder into the trap.

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