Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ethics Reform in Montgomery

Governor Riley has called for a special session of the Alabama Legislature to address "Ethics Reform". I think this is a great step in the right direction, but we need to make sure it goes far enough.

So far most of the items initended to be addressed pertain to lobbyists and campaign finance reform/ PAC to PAC transfers. These are definitely things that need to be addressed.

It has also been said that they intend to address "double dipping". That is good too. What I have not heard is anything about prohibiting elected officials from gaining unfair advantage to government funded CONTRACTS.

The contracts let by the state and local govenrment represent a large portion of government spending. More often than we'd like to admit, state officials wind up recieving or benefitting from these contracts. This is a different kind of double dipping, but is double dipping none the less. If they are circumventing or undermining fair competition, the tax-payers pick up the tab for the difference and that is unacceptable. It is time for it to stop.

That being said this session on Ethics Reform needs to address this situation as well as those already planned to be addressed. There is no reason an elected official or any company he or she works for in any way , or owns an interest in, should be performing tax payer funded work, without total transparency and fair competition. This is true during thier term of service as well as after thier terms have expired or they have been removed from office and it should apply to local officials just as much as those at the state level.

I know of too many instances where someone has been elected, served a term or two and has been set for life because they were able to arrange a contract for themselves after leaving office or even while still in office, all at the expense of the tax payers, whom they were sworn to represent. Now THAT is an Ethics violation and we don't need any commission to tell us so. Every human is blessed with a consience and naturally we know right from wrong. that being said, I think making every elected Joe take an ethics class is another waste of our money. People know when they are doing something wrong. Write the rules and if someone violates them, let them pay.

If the newly elected Republican Legislature doesn't address this issue of contracts being funnelled to friends and allies of the elected officials (and even the officials themselves) in its "Ethics Reform" session, we will know right off the bat that these guys are not really serious about cleaning up corruption and special interests in Mongomery. They are only serious about cleaning out thier competition for public money so that there is more to go around for them and thier cronies.
I hope that we have elected men of character who will do the right thing and address ALL of the corruption in Montgomery, not just that which exists on the other side of the aisle.

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