Thursday, September 24, 2009

BYU Prof: Ethics Reform Initiative About Accountability

Added Bonus: A gentle reminder of Tuesday's upcoming Ogden public hearing

There's an excellent Salt Lake Tribune story this morning on the topic of the proposed ethics reform initiative which would create a code of ethics for the Legislature and a commission to review ethics complaints against lawmakers. Don Meyers's lead paragraphs provide the gist of it:
Provo » In Brad Agle's mind, there's one word that sums up a proposed ethics reform initiative: Accountability.
Agle, a professor at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management, said the initiative -- which would create a code of ethics for the Legislature and a commission to review ethics complaints against lawmakers -- makes legislators accountable to the public. And, he said, that seems to be upsetting some of them.
"If there's some uproar, it's because people do not want to be accountable," Agle said in a standing-room only hearing on the initiative at the Provo City Public Library on Wednesday night. Utahns for Ethical Government scheduled the hearing for residents of Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties.
Some legislators of course, such as Senator John Valentine, are screaming like banshees at the prospect of being reined in by citizen-driven ethics reform, just as Professor Agle predicts:
But Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said he saw a different tone to the initiative: Punishment.
"The idea is to punish legislators," Valentine said, his voice showing emotional strain. "As someone who has spent 21 years serving the state, and losing significant income because of it ... I feel like myself and my colleagues are on trial."
It's long time legislators like Valentine, of course, those who've enjoyed years of unrestricted benefits and perqs, who've drawn the citizens' ire. And if they don't like the new ethics reform which will result from this grass-roots citizen effort, we're sure there are many other Utah citizens who'd be gladly fill their legislative seats, happily abide by the highest ethical standards and helpfully assist legislative fat-cats like Valentine find the Utah Capitol Hill exit doors.

And while we're on the topic of this encouraging ethics reform inititative, we'll once again incorporate this Utahns For Ethical Government press release, which informs us of the upcoming UFEG public hearing which will be held in Ogden on Tuesday:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009--7-9 p.m.
Weber County
Mound Fort Middle School, Media Center
1400 Mound Fort Drive
Ogden, UT 84404
Once again we'll reiterate our plea to all WCF readers to mark their calenders and plan to be in attendance at this most important event.


ozboy said...

Sadly in Utah even if this ethics, and re-districting, were to be passed by the citizens - it, like any other referendum or initiative, will merely be gutted by the legislature in their next session. Under current law none of these ethics proposals ever stand a chance of actually being practiced by the legislature as they can just piggy back new legislation on it and effectively neuter it.

Until and unless the voters of Utah ever wake up and start voting these career crooks out of office nothing will change and the ultimate joke will continue to be on us.

I think any legislator who is in opposition to ethics reform should be an automatic no vote by any ethical and thinking voter. It is a red flag denoting ethical deficiencies. A lot of stuff in life and politics lies in a grey area, this is not one of them. People only give gifts to legislators because they want something back, only a fool or a liar would see it any different.

RudiZink said...

Great post Ozboy! And... as per usual... you are exactly right.

Any sitting legislator who publicly opposes this long overdue citizen-driven legislation ethics overhaul needs to be escorted out of town on a rail, with positionially optimanal tar and feathers, to insulate them from the 2009 autumnn chill.

Curmudgeon said...

I think we can predict one thing with absolute certainty, based on past-performance of the legislators: if the ethics overhaul petition gets on the ballot, the legislature will in its next session quickly raise the number of signatures necessary to get something on the ballot to try to make sure the referendum provision in the state constitution isn't in fact ever actually used again.

That will be their version of ethics reform.

JR Ewing said...

Once you get past the ethics, the rest is a piece of cake.

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