- Is the action legal?
- Does it comply with our values?
- If you do it, will you feel bad?
- How will it look in the newspaper?
- If you know it's wrong, don't do it!
- If you're not sure, ask.
- Keep asking until you get an answer.
Laugh, snicker, snort if you must; I did. I'm with DCist's Aaron Morrissey on this one:
Of course, this "quick test" assumes that the person thinking about committing a violation would actually be sentient enough to honestly answer such questions, which, as we all know, is quite the assumption to be making.
Back to the serious discussion. The fevered pitch of the public outcry has died down over the past month or so but the need for reform remains. Former Councilmember Kathy Patterson is spot on when she said this (Word, .doc) at the October 26 public hearing on multiple ethics bills:
only the Council can restore public trust in the Council and ensure that trust is retained in the future; that cannot be accomplished by outside entities no matter what their scope and responsibility.
The same can be said for the mayor.
I don't have any answers. But I do have expectations and I expect elected and appointed officials to behave ethically. I am sure we cannot legislate ethical behavior any more than we can legislate moral or socially acceptable behavior. That doesn't mean we don't try and it certainly doesn't mean the community should not hold elected officials accountable.
Part of this thing called accountability is weighing in on legislation. Eighteen members of the public have registered to testify (see the draft list, circulated November 29) (Word, .doc) at the Committee on Government Operations (Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser, chair) public roundtable on the Draft Committee Print of Bill 19-511, the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011 November 30 at 11:00 am (PDF) in the JAWB.
Watch the event via OCT.
The November 30 roundtable is focused on the specific proposal of the Committee on Government Operations, not the issue generally and not about the numerous bills before the committee. The committee may make changes to the proposal depending on comments made at the roundtable.