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Welcome to Our New Members
Mary George Discusses Ethics (Mary George)
How Could We Manage Without Them?
Schools in Hawaii - A Preliminary Report
What a Morning! (Beverly Carter)
Feed-Back (Ann Hansen)
50th Anniversary of the LWV
We Look to Congress in November
Time for Action
Mary George Discusses Ethics
Honolulu's new ethics ordinances, passed by the City Council on July 22, represent an investment in concern, time and dedication on the part of a great many organizations and interested individuals. I begin with this disclaimer because I have been so often identified with these laws and credited with their passage, even to the point of being occasionally referred to as "Mrs. Clean"
No one person could ever create a viable code of ethics. Standards of conduct for the public service Should, and do, vary considerably from one community to another. Each should represent the consensus of the public as to what should be expected of its public servants.
For example, in one area, nepotism might be considered reprehensible, yet in another community halfway around the world it might be thought of as the first obligation of a public official: to share his good fortune with the members of his family. In still another area, the citizens might be indifferent as to whether or not a political appointee were related to the appointing authority, feeling that the only criterion which should be applied is whether or not the appointee is qualified for the position.
So standards of ethics cannot be borrowed from one place to another. They must grow from roots in the community.
This acceptance by the public is as important in. enforcement of ethics laws as it is in their creation. In Honolulu, as in most jurisdictions where codes of ethics have been enacted, administration is by a, board of commission, a group with purely advisory powers. Our ethics Commission may neither reward or punish. It may interpret and advise, require facts to be presented to it, and publish its opinions for the guidance end information of the public servant and the public. The only sanctions that can be taken against unethical conduct are to be found in the ballot box. And this is as it should be. As the community is the creator of the standards of ethics, so is it the enforcer.
There are two fundamental ideas incorporated into almost every governmental code of ethics. The first is that of fair and equal treatment; that is, no person should receive special consideration or a better deal from government than anyone else. This includes: the concept that no member of government should use his position to secure special advs117 tags for himself or for anyone else.
The second basic idea is that of resolving the problem of conflicting interests. I# many ways, and with differing language, codes of ethics try to insure that when a member; of government-has a private interest which is in conflict with the public interest he will act in behalf of the latter rather than the former.
I have yet to find ethics provisions which didn't fit into one of these two categories somehow, either as a refinement or an elaboration. If these two fundamentals were well understood, and followed by general consent, we could scrap all of the complicated legislation.
That ethics millennium isn't here yet -- but we're working toward it!
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