making local government more ethical
It not only takes a number of officials to allow unethical conduct to occur, it also takes a number of officials to undermine the effect of a good ethics program. An ugly example occurred recently in North Providence, Rhode Island, a city where three former council members are awaiting trial for charges of extortion and bribery.

Local government vendor or supplier codes of conduct are not commonly found in the U.S. In a limited search, I couldn't find one. But corporations commonly have them, as do some Canadian cities and some states and state agencies. And they sound like a good idea.

The reason I raise this idea is that Cuyahoga County's new county executive says he will have one drafted (see my most recent blog post). What can we expect from such a code of conduct?

Cuyahoga County, OH, which includes Cleveland, has been the site of a large number of arrests of government officials, contractors, and developers, primarily for making and accepting bribes (see my blog post). The most recent arrest occurred on December 17.

As of this week, the county has a new form of government, featuring a county executive and council, and a new (albeit so far barebones) ethics policy announced on Monday as the first act of the new county executive. The basic ethics policy has only four provisions, as follows:
One Moore County (NC) commissioner has been faced with two conflict of interest matters in 2010, one of which led him to recently resign from a board. Although the two have nothing to do with each other, they have become politically intertwined which, along with the lack of an ethics program, has prevented the responsible handling of the conflicts.

Bullheadedness is unprofessional, at least in most professions. By "bullheadedness," I mean doing what you want no matter whether a professional tells you not to do it or whether your boss tells you not to do it, even if they tell you why and they are clearly right.

One of the professions where bullheadedness is somewhat acceptable is politics. Take the Louisville council, for example. According to an article last week in the Courier-Journal, the council is about to vote on a 15-year renewal of a cable franchise agreement, a pretty big deal. And the cable company goes and offers council members free tickets and access to a luxury suite for a University of Kentucky-University of Louisville basketball game at the KFC Yum! Center (it ended up being Louisville's second loss of the season).

The recent arrest of the Prince George's County (MD) executive and his wife, who is a new member of the county council, shows how wrong it is to give the county executive and individual council members power over development projects, a topic I've written about with respect to Dallas and Chicago.