Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dancing Around Ethics Reform

There will probably be a lot of 'dancing around' ethics reform today.

The proposed Dallas ISD Ethics policy revision- BBFA (Local) - Conflicts of Interest- is the product of a uniquely wrongheaded arrogance.

It does not do the right thing.

It attempts to take what was intended as effective ethics reform and turns it into a politically motivated defense of 'the existing arrangement.'

Our own Board Member ethics policy - BBF (Local) states:

"I will make no personal promise or take private action that may compromise my performance or my responsibilities."

Profiting from private business and financial contracts while in office is clearly "taking private action that may compromise my performance or my responsibilities."

Shall every Trustee create a private business interest in private contracts with the District we serve and make a mockery of our service?

If anything, the ethical standard on contracts should be even higher for Trustees than either the Superintendent or employees - but certainly not lower.

Trustees are elected to serve the public interest, not to profit at the public horseshoe.

There are no indispensable Trustees and there is no indispensable Superintendent. Whether by personal decision or election, we will all be routinely replaced when we leave this Board and this School District.

In allowing elected Trustees to continue profiting from contracts with the School District we were elected to serve, the Board appears to be supporting a very different standard of conduct for Trustees - the 'good ol' boy' standard.

While Trustees can easily rubber stamp this matter, great damage will be done to the public perception of the Board's lack of serious commitment to fully protecting the public interest, not the private interest of Trustees.

If the Trustees simply do the political thing - instead of the right thing - the result will be further reduction in public confidence, support, and trust.

The online public survey clearly showed the public supports ending contracts with Trustees - even though the Committee Chair - Trustee Flores - conveniently left off any direct question about the most important issue of all - whether to ban all Trustee contracts with the District. Then the Committee simply disregarded the survey results.

The ad hoc committee ethics consultant, Dr. Constantine Konstans, also clearly stated his opinion that there should be no contracts with Trustees.

As Dr. Konstans put it, "If it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander."