Ethics in Local Government: 11/17

Announcing: A Town Hall On Creating an Environment for Ethical Local Government
Thursday, November 17th 7:00pm at Bethlehem City Hall, Doors Open 6:30pm
Sponsored by The Northampton County League of Women Voters

This is a timely topic for public discussion as we wait for the final shoe to drop (or not) on the FBI investigation of Mayor Pawlowski’s administration, which has already resulted in multiple convictions and prison terms for some of his top officials. It seems that hardly a day goes by that we don’t read about corrupt or at least unethical behavior by public officials. Although the problem seems pervasive it is not inevitable. The good news is that there are things we as citizens and the public officials who represent us can do to reduce the incidents of corruption and scandal that plague so many cities.

The Town Hall will feature a panel with expertise in various aspects of government ethics with a focus on what can be done at the local level where it is particularly important to have a robust ethics program in place. This is because the local level is where many politicians are first exposed to weak ethical environments, learn bad habits, misplaced loyalty, a special sense of entitlement, and then take those behaviors on to higher office. The Town Hall panelists are: Leigh Chapman, Esq. Director of Policy, PA Department of State; Brian Jacisin, Esq. Director of Investigations, PA Ethics Commission; J. Shane Creamer, Esq. Executive Director, Philadelphia Board of Ethics; Michael Cooke, Esq. Philadelphia Board of Ethics; and Julio Guridy, Allentown City Council.

Misconduct and outright corruption cost taxpayers when decisions about contracts, grants, procurement, and land use are influenced by gifts, campaign contributions, special access, and preferential treatment. Scandal not only tarnishes individual reputations; it tarnishes the community as well, which can result in adverse economic impacts. Even more important, there is a cost in public confidence. Our democracy can only work if it has the trust of the people. So the question is not whether we can afford an ethics program; it is whether we can afford not to invest in one.

I hope you will mark you calendar for this important event and join the discussion about what we can do to insure that Bethlehem becomes a model of good government in Pennsylvania.

-Barbara Diamond

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