This November, DeKalb County voters will head to the polls to vote on revisions to an Ethics Act passed in 2015 by 92% of voters. The ballot will have no explanation of the revisions, and voters should not be fooled. This legislation does not revise the Board of Ethics, it GUTS it. How? By undermining the board’s independence, putting up roadblocks for reporting ethics concerns, and compromising the professionalism and efficiency of the board and staff.
Here are three reasons you should VOTE NO on the “Revised Ethics Act” on November 5:
1. You value the independence of the ethics board. Someone under the purview of the ethics board should not appoint members to the board or review and approve the board’s policies and procedures. It’s a conflict of interest. Yet, this act does exactly that.
2. You want the ethics board open to everyone. Under the revised act, county employees would have to go to Human Resources rather than the ethics board for complaints against their supervisors. More than a roadblock, this is a giant boulder. Not to mention that this flies in the face of whistleblower protections.
3. You want a professional, industry-leading ethics office. The revised act removes the position of ethics officer, who has the standard legal training and ethics background to handle the job, and replaces it with an “ethics administrator” with no requirement for any experience whatsoever. No work experience. No ethics experience. Seriously.
It is counter-intuitive to vote no when something says “ethics”, but that is exactly what voters need to do on November 5. This legislation takes us backward.
Don’t just take our word for it. The DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council (www.dekalbcitizens.org) asked Dr. Paul Wolpe, an internationally renowned ethics expert, DeKalb County citizen, and director of Emory’s Center for Ethics, to assess this bill. His complete two page assessment can be found on our website, but here is one statement:
“The bottom line is that this bill is clearly meant to weaken and dilute the excellent policy passed in 2015, without any convincing reasons to weaken the bill. DeKalb is slipping back to a former posture that got it in trouble in the first place. I would agree that this bill should be strongly opposed.”
The citizens of DeKalb County have a right to expect a higher ethical standard. Vote No on November 5.