Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Is the End Near? - Day 149 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

Finally, after almost half a year in an ethical wasteland, the Jackson County legislature is reportedly prepared to accept Ethical Home Rule. Amusingly, Tarwater and Rizzo are pushing for the new deal. “We’re going to put ourselves under the ethics code,” Rizzo said in an interview. “But it will take a unanimous vote of the commission to eliminate one of us.”

The news of the yet-unwritten deal came (not coincidentally) on the same day that the Ethics Commission Selection Committee came forward with a panel of 5 new people to serve on the commission. Janet Blauvelt, Karen Graves, Fred Mills, Myron Sildon, Gwendolyn Washington will make up the new Ethics Commission, and it looks like the Selection Committee did a fantastic job of recruiting and choosing solid people. I know and admire two of the Commissioners.

It remains to be seen whether the entire Legislature will go along with the proposal. Early in the process, Scott Burnett drew a line in the sand over the false issue of "double jeopardy" by both the County Ethics Commission and the Missouri Ethics Commission. Most citizens accept the fact that they are subject to multiple levels of oversight, but Burnett somehow felt that he should be exempt. Fortunately, the rest of the Legislature disagrees with him on that point, and he apparently stands alone in his absurd claim that two levels of ethical oversight amount to "double jeopardy".

Ultimately, this is a good day for Jackson County, though it's a major loss for many of the members of the legislature. Rizzo and Tarwater will probably lose their seats over their efforts to eliminate Ethical Home Rule, and Scott Burnett's term as Chair of the Legislature has been forever tainted by the half-year-long ethical blackout. If it hadn't been for a few citizens who stood up to the good-old-boy network, they might have succeeded. In fact, they still could succeed - until the deal is passed by the legislature, only a fool would trust in their willingness or ability to do the right thing.

Thanks and congratulations should go to Pat McInerney for his quiet and determined leadership on this issue.

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Blogger Robert Wechsler said...

I think you're jumping the gun a bit. Requiring a unanimous vote for the EC to make a finding of a violation is preferential treatment, making it very hard to enforce the code against county legislators (it's outrageous for a mere reprimand). But it might turn out to be even worse than this.

There are two possible problems with this unanimity requirement. One is that the unanimity requirement may turn out to apply not just to findings of a violation, but also to the earlier votes on whether to investigate and hold a hearing.

The other possible problem is that the unanimity requirement may refer not just to all voting members but to all five members. Since (i) it is difficult to get all members together at a meeting, and (ii) the ethics code only allows members present at all hearing and deliberations to vote, a vote of all members would be nearly impossible to get. Such a rule would be very close to not allowing the EC to enforce the code against county legislators.

Also, what about jurisdiction over county attorneys?

5/05/2009 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are such a phony Ryan these legislator out of clear make a positive change and you dont even give them credit. Thank You for proving doing the right thing is still thankless.

5/05/2009 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jako Sunshine said...

I've seen this unanimous vote requirement play out just like Robert suggests. Nothing gets done because only the Legislature can vote in lockstep on every issue.

This commission is selected on the premise that they are independent thinkers. It is natural and desirable for them to have varied and dissenting opinions.

This volunteer group also has other full time jobs and as before, members have conflicting schedules.

While I have no idea how McInerney's service made all this happen, he and Tarwater have been friends since grade school. The Legislature provided him a lobbyist in Jeff City for his new post on the KCPD board with our tax dollars. Rizzo would say anything, in an attempt to change public opinion about his ethics.

5/06/2009 2:13 AM  
Blogger Jako Sunshine said...

Again, watch the video about how they passed the previous version of the Ethics Ordinance. After that one the entire EC resigned.


5/06/2009 2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Tarwater, Burnett and Rizzo and it's just a big joke that provides them with a bit of grandstanding. Unfortunately, they end up with the last laugh.

5/06/2009 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, it seems like Bob Stringfield and associates found a new forum to express their feelings about Dan Tarwater and Henry Rizzo.

The fact of the matter is that Scott Burnett, Henry Rizzo, and Dan Tarwater headed up this charge for this new ethics panel and they should be lauded for it.

5/07/2009 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote for JJ Rizzo, the future of corruption!

5/07/2009 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The fact of the matter is that Scott Burnett, Henry Rizzo, and Dan Tarwater headed up this charge for this new ethics panel and they should be lauded for it."

Facts: the 3 stooges came up with a plan outside of the public eye so that they could save face and look good. Sunshine laws? Lauded for it? I don't think so.

These three and Denny Waits didn't even want an ethics code passed which is why it took a complete year to get anything before the legislative body. On top of that, they publicly criticized the previous Ethics Commission for doing their job as outlined in the County Charter. It's time for these guys to go.

5/08/2009 1:13 PM  
Anonymous String my field said...

Isn't attacking family members a little out of bounds?

Typical for a person who was talked out of a county legislative seat and to allow his aide to run for office. He was played like a violin by Mr. Pennel and even caused a fight in the chambers.

You are the reason why blogs are ridiculous.

5/08/2009 3:47 PM  
Blogger Jako Sunshine said...

I guess Dan has fallen asleep. I hope he is still breathing. He must have had his eyes closed not to see this one coming.

Apologists for the Legislature are busy putting their spin on the corruption of public dollars paying for free legal services and bonuses.

Denny Waits is the person who told Stringfield that he would restore his office budget if the Sunshine Lawsuit was dropped.

What do you expect from a lawyer who makes his living from taking money from DUI violators while offering them counseling programs he controls in his official capacity as Legislator.

5/09/2009 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you said long ago that no elected officials read our blogs. Congrats.

5/20/2009 2:52 PM  

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