Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dallas ISD Proposed Ethics Policy Is Unethical

I first requested that the Dallas ISD ethics policy be addressed in February, 2008. My proposed Ethics Reform was intentionally simple, clear and direct.

Always, it has been very clear that the Dallas ISD Board would refuse to stop the unethical and corrupt practice of allowing business entities in which Trustees have an ownership interest to receive contracts while serving as an elected Trustee.

This issue is quite clear to any right thinking citizen or Trustee.

Many games have been played since that time and great energy wasted to undermine the one clear ethical issue facing the Board. The Board President sits as Board Chair and former CEO of a business entity - TD Industries - that has received close to 10 Million dollars in contracts in recent years. Is this unethical and should this be stopped?

Of course, it is unethical and it should be stopped.

But this Board will not do so.

Instead of addressing this most important ethical issue, what has been done is the Board President appointed two of his closest political allies, Edwin Flores and Nancy Bingham - to a three person Committee - thereby guaranteeing there would never be any possibility the Committee would recommend the end of his contracts. Trustee Flores has distorted the policy in ways designed to greatly confuse the ethical issue.

The ethics policy has been turned into a political fishing expedition that creates foolish illusions that non-profit and profit making entities are the same. That is simply false but serves the political agenda to confuse the ethical issue.

The city of Houston prohibited most contracts with Trustees in 2004. The 1-page Houston Ethics policy - unlike the confusing two and one half page Dallas policy - specifically exempts not for profit institutions. But certain Dallas Trustees have a political agenda to attack non-profits. The Houston policy states:

"Business entity" shall not include non-profit corporations or religious, educational, and governmental institutions."

When I was asked to Chair the same Committee by the Policy Chair, I realized the issue would be sidetracked for months exactly as happened. I also realized that the Policy Chair did not have Board authority to appoint committees. So I decided not to participate in a sideshow that was designed to do nothing but waste time and undermine the ethics reform I had proposed.

I certainly knew that I could not and would not support a policy that did not stop this unethical practice.

On Thursday, September 25, the Board will vote to continue this shameless 'good ol' boy' unethical arrangement.

My position is simple. I will not vote for a sham policy that allows any Trustee to so clearly violate the public trust for financial gain.

Any Board that supports this kind of unethical arrangement is compromising principle on the altar of politics.

The public clearly deserves a higher standard in ethics reform and a Board with the integrity to prevent Trustee contracts with the District they serve.

Selfish politics wins - ethics loses.