Ethics reform can take the oddest forms, especially when those doing
it put on blinders and consider nothing but the situation before
them, thereby failing to consider best practices or, in fact, the
practices of any other jurisdiction.
This is the kind of ethics reform that recently happened in Park
Ridge, IL, a suburb of Chicago with 37,000 inhabitants. According to
article in the Chicago Tribune
, someone filing an
ethics complaint must henceforth cite a law that the respondent has violated.
This is a good change. In the past, apparently, one need only say
that certain conduct created an appearance of impropriety.
However, the other part of the ethics reform took the enforcement program from bad to worse. Simply focusing ethics reform on enforcement — rather than training, advice, and disclosure — is a problem. But giving high-level officials more involvement in enforcement is seriously problematic.