Friday, December 19, 2008

Standard Examiner Editorial: "Ethics Reform 101"

A WCF plea for all Utah media to keep up the ethics reform drumbeat

As our Weber County Forum mid-day story, we highlight the fine editorial appearing this mornings Standard-Examiner. The Std-Ex gets right to the point, and minces no words. These are the Std-Ex's minimal three elements of ethics reform for Utah legislators during the 2009 legislative session. The Std-Ex appropriately calls it "Ethics Reform 101":
• No gifts period, and that means no exceptions for meals, events, or awards. If a legislator wants to accept something offered, pay for it.
• No personal use of campaign funds — and that includes unused campaign funds.
• No quick passage from legislative service to lobbying. The “cooling-off” period should be a long while, say years. That would allow influence a former legislator might have with colleagues to wane.
The Std-Ex asks much more of our 2009 legislature, of course:
We know there are many more aspects of ethics reform to discuss. They include how many legislators can sit on an ethics panel, how the public can file an ethics complaint, the role of an independent ethics commission, how legislators file ethics complaints against each other, and potential voting restrictions on legislators with conflicts of interest on an issue.
We expect all of these issues to be debated and resolved. But we want Utah lawmakers to understand that ethics reform is not just an administrative procedure to be ironed out. Ethics reform is crucial because our Legislature has fallen into a culture of entitlement. Freebies are grabbed by elected public servants who rationalize that their public “sacrifice” entitles them to a meal, or night at a sports event.
Nevertheless, the Std-Ex's above three points represent the core of meaingful reform, in our never humble opinion. We believe the people of Utah should settle for nothing less.

The Standard-Examiner has of course been well aboard the legislative ethics reform bandwagon for many years. Numerous previous editorials on this topic have appeared on the Std-Ex pages before. Somehow, however, it seems to us that today's editorial is presented with far more precision and urgency than during the tenure of former editorial page editor Don Porter. Today's tone comes closer to a demand than to on-the-knees begging. Perhaps it's the Std-Ex's installation of the very forthright Doug Gibson in Porter's place that makes for what we perceive to be a drastic difference in editorial tone.

We hope the Standard-Examiner will not let up on this; and we hope the other broadcast and print media in Utah join in the fight, regularly hammering Utah's legislative leadership to finally -- and once and for all -- pass meaningful legislative ethics reform.

So far it seems that some in the legislature still haven't quite gotten the message that the lumpencitizens of Utah are serious about this.

We thus thank the Std-Ex for this morning's editorial and urge all Utah media to keep up the mighty ethics reform drum beat.


Curmudgeon said...

If gambling weren't illegal here in the Gret Stet of Utah, it'd be fun to run a book on the probability of the Republican-dominated Utah legislature adopting all three of the reforms the SE so rightly calls Ethics Reform 101.

If such a book were opened, the smart money would be down against the reforms happening, I think. Big time. I'd certainly bet that way, were I betting man [which of course I am not, wagering being illegal in these parts].

But we shall see. I'd love to be wrong about this.

Tom said...

WoW, where the heck did this editorial come from? Is the ghost of Porter still lurking around the SE editorial room?

Too bad it is all just a dream.

When the story is writ about the 2009 Utah version of the big top, aka Utah Legislature, there will be a whole lot more bull shit spread around about ethics reform than there will be actual legislation passed that does what this editorial calls for.

Bottom line is that these NeoCon peckerwoods that dominate the Utah State Legislature don't really think there is anything wrong with the way they do businesses. They are not about to shut down the gravy train over a little public clamor. A little smily face adjustment here and there, a little meally mouthed explanation of how righteous they are in all they do and viola! ethics reform Utah style!!

contrary view said...

Curtis is gone. Bramble is next. Followed by Valentine and the rest who defend the ethics status quo.

Curm mentioned that 40 of 50 States have independent (apart from and not populated by legislators) Ethics Commissions. Utah. while claiming the ethical and moral high ground, is an embarrassment and those who are dumb enough to re elect anyone who refuses to sign an ethics reform pledge and actually represent 75% of Utahans, needs to have their heads smacked around by mature adults, wearing garments of course.

weber County girly girls said...

Why is it that the paper always beats up on the legislature and not on the county office holder or all the city council in the county. I believe that all of them take gifts as well but none of that is reported? I wish the paper would be more equitable in who they beat up on.

Curmudgeon said...

Weber County GG:

That's a very good question. Do members of the County Commission accept gratuities from companies, individuals, with business before them? I don't know. Be an interesting thing for the SE to track down, dontcha think?

Bill C. said...

Rudi, how dare you praise the neocon Gibson, he stole much of this right off your blog. This is just a more detailed better written copy of my post from the 17th. Give a local naysayer some credit, would you.

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