OGDEN — The flap over a pending property sale to a corporation owned by would be developer Chris Peterson is one reason the city’s council and administration need to adopt a code of ethics, says Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske.Weber County Readers were of course the first to learn about the "Bootjack" sweetheart deal. Gentle reader Ogden Red spilled the beans here first. And with all due deference to Mr. Schwebke, many of us consider the latest official indiscretion to be something more than a mere "flap."
If such a code were in place, the administration might have been required to inform the Ogden Redevelopment Agency in advance of Peterson’s involvement with Bootjack LLC, before agreeing to sell the corporation three parcels off Wall Avenue between 21st and 22nd streets, Jeske said.
The RDA approved the land sale in December, but only learned this month that Peterson owns Bootjack.
Although today's article refers to a draft proposal, Ace Reporter Schwebke offers us little of substance, aside from vague reference to some kind of "pledge":
The proposal calls for the council, Mayor Matthew Godfrey and the city administration to annually sign a pledge outlining their obligations to the public, she said.Thus we're left to speculate on the strength and breadth of the said proposal.
The pledge would require that all three entities disclose potential conflicts of interest, promise to handle land transactions honestly and perform all duties ethically, Jeske said.
As our regular readers know, government ethics is a pet topic of ours. We rant about it often. We're highly in favor, here at Weber County Forum, of anything our elected public servants can do to promote the highest ethical standards for our government officials. We thus applaud Councilwoman Jeske's interest in this subject, and offer our unflagging support for anything she can do to help clean up the ethics of certain Emerald City government officials.
And if we can offer our own suggestions, we'd urge her to incorporate these minimal requirements in any "ethics pledge" which she might propose:
• Full adherence to all existing conflicts provisions under Utah Law (Utah Code 10-3-1301 et seq.),And while we're on the subject, we do hope our city council will also devote some attention to enforcing the Utah and Emerald City legal provisions above cited. In the most recent Bootjack transaction, wherein option rights to an unmarketed RDA property were deceptively granted to a Boss Godfrey croney, Boss Godfrey may have already run afoul of existing law. Whether our asleep-at-the-wheel council will ever lift a finger to enforce any of the above provisions is another question entirely. Only time will tell, we suppose.
• Full adherence to all existing conflicts provisions under the Emerald City Municipal Code (Title 2 Chapter 7), and;
• Adoption of provisions which would prohibit acts which would constitute appearances of conflicts of interest, in addition to conflicts which are actual or potential.
So what about it, gentle readers? Who among our WCF readership would not be in favor of a robust City-wide Ethics Pledge? Would it be a good idea to adopt such a pledge -- to be taken by all elected officials, department heads and city employees? Dare we suggest that the council begin its own investigation of possible violations of currently-existing conflicts provisions?
Who will be the first to comment?
Update 2/28/09 10:38 a.m. MT: Several readers have mentioned in the below thread this morning's Standard-Examiner lead editorial. Although we thought this editorial to be weak, half-baked and lame, we link it here anyway for the convenience of those folks who don't have their own hard-copy Std-Ex edition... (that guy who logs in daily from Singapore, for instance.)