Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good News and a Good Example on Jackson County Ethics - Day 65 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

Go look at the Jackson County Ethics Selection Committee's website's "Process" page. Notice what's missing?

No longer is the Selection Committee promising to keep applications confidential.


I had a very pleasant conversation with someone deeply involved in the selection process yesterday, and he had a forthright explanation for the bogus promise of confidentiality - they hadn't really thought about it. As soon as they saw my objection, coupled with local attorney and sunshine law expert Jean Maneke's excellent legal analysis, they realized their mistake and fixed it.

What a remarkable example of good leadership!

Too bad the Jackson County Legislature is bereft of such leadership. I recall, back in the early days of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout, before Christmas, having a conversation with one of the legislators and discussing the crisis with him. I know and trust the guy, and it turned out that he was honestly confused. He genuinely thought that the Missouri Ethics Commission would enforce whatever the Jackson County legislature passed, and he thought that having both entities enforcing the same code was "double jeopardy".

He was completely wrong on both counts, but I am 100% willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that those were simple, good faith mistakes. I don't expect perfection from my politicians, and I don't blame him for being wrong at first.

But now the Missouri Ethics Commission has stated quite clearly that they will not be enforcing the Jackson County Code, and the "Double Jeopardy" argument has been demolished. There's a big difference between being mistaken and being pigheadedly mistaken, and the Jackson County legislature has crossed over to the latter.

I've talked to a lot of insiders who promise me that "this problem will be fixed" after we get a new Ethics Commission appointed. I admire their optimism, but I think the legislators are making a terrible mistake in waiting. I'm supposed to meet a candidate for Henry Rizzo's seat soon, and one of Dan Tarwater's more well-known constituents has spoken with me about an urge to run. Once people get in the race, they aren't going to back out, and the incumbents are going to answer the voters' questions about why they allowed themselves to be wrong about ethics for 6 months, or whatever amount of time passes in the Jackson County Ethics Blackout.

Why can't the Jackson County Legislature simply admit it made a mistake and fix it? That's what the Selection Committee did. That's what grown-ups do.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Lance said...

Good work, Dan. Thanks for your efforts in this regard.

2/10/2009 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fix it or F-em. That's all I've got say on that.

2/11/2009 6:15 PM  

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