The City’s Ethics Advisory panel voted today to recommend that the City Commission create a new Ethics Officer position. This position would be on the same level as the City Manager, City Attorney, City Auditor and the City Clerk and the responsibilities would be detailed in the Charter. This means that the position would have to be placed on the ballot by the City Commission and approved by the voters.
The vote was 5-2 and followed a spirited debate on the issue of ethics oversight.
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The inherent problem with an elected ethics officer is that an elected official is frequently not the most qualified person, just the most attractive candidate. Government ethics is a hugely complex subject matter. Conducting the best campaign is simply not a sufficient qualifier. The ethics panel must specify the qualifications and the means by which a politically independent person or group can identify and appoint the most qualified applicant who can conduct the business of the ethics office, independent of political influence.
Are you sure this position will be independent? We don’t vote to for the City Manager, City Attorney, etc., and if we don’t have the opportunity to elect the Ethics Officer, to whom will he/she be responsible? I want the Ethics Officer to be responsible to the electorate.