The D.C. Council wants to clean up ethics at city hall.
Led by Council member Muriel Bowser, council members have proposed ethics reforms that would create an oversight board to establish rules to end misuse of authority by our elected leaders.
Their intent may be noble, but the bill does nothing to ensure that the misconduct by Vince Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign--now under federal investigation--does not happen again.
The creation of the Board of Ethics and Accountability doesn’t require Council member Jim Graham (D) to notify the proper authorities if his chief of staff takes another bribe to support legislation.
The Ethics Bill doesn’t curtail methods Councilmember Harry Thomas (D) could use to funnel public funds allocated for children’s sports programs to his personal bank account, or mandate that Mary Cheh (D) vote and support legislation in the interest of Ward 3 residents.
This bill does not limit the undue influence of special interest groups and lobbyists in our election process or at the Wilson Building.
Last summer, I testified before the council as the ethicss discussion began that any reform effort would be feeble unless it was coupled with a reform in the moral composition of our elected leaders.
No bill, board, or set or rules and regulations will achieve this.
The only path toward a true and lasting reform in ethics is through the recall and removal of the people who are in poor ethical standing.
It is time for D.C. residents to take action. A recall of members of our government would send the signal to all current and future politicians in our city that we expect them to do their jobs in a manner that is expected from an elected official.
We cannot afford to wait for another government bureaucracy to do a job we can do ourselves. Furthermore, we should not have to spend another $300,000 to $600,000 for something we should be getting for free –ethical politicians.
Can we really expect a government already charged with instances of cronyism to nominate an independent council to condemn them when the next scandal hits city hall? The proposed three-member Board on Ethics and Accountability would be nominated by the Mayor and approved by members of city council. Sound like a conflict of interest? That’s because it is.
This bill does not provide any substantive change and only kicks the “ethics can” down the street.
On January 2, 2012, I will be joined by fellow Washingtonians concerned with the ethical standards of our elected officials to begin a recall of the Mayor and members of city council. The task will not be easy. However, change is never easy, and unlike the proposed ethics bill –the citizens of D.C. are ready to move swiftly and boldly to restore the public trust in government.
Frederick Butler, a District resident, is a local activist and spokesman for the D.C. recall movement.
Read more on The Root DC