Twice before, the reform package has come before the court, only to be sent back for more scrutiny by the County Attorney’s office. County Judge Ed Emmett says the reform package is pretty clear.
“First and foremost, it makes it easier for county employees, elected or otherwise, to know what’s expected and to know what the law says. It also then makes it transparent so that the residents can find out, for example, on the financial disclosures and the campaign contribution, exactly what’s going on in their county government. If you just say this is what we believe in, it gives people a standard to be held to.”
The reform package includes part of the recommendations a task force on county ethics made last year. Emmett says he’s not sure why there’s reluctance to approve ethics reform.
“In a county where you have more than 16,000 employees, we really do have an ethical county government. It functions very well and there are some people, I think, who say, well, this just is admitting that we have problems. It’s not admitting we have problems, it’s saying here’s a way to reassure the public that county government is ethical.”
The last time the county’s code of ethics was reviewed was 15 years ago, in 1994.