Opinion

Little: The Scottsdale Ethics Code has been gutted; it needs to be fixed

By John Little
Posted 9/8/20

Recently there has been renewed interest in revisiting the city’s codes and ordinances regarding campaign contributions and ethics to consider changes that could help restore public trust. …

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Opinion

Little: The Scottsdale Ethics Code has been gutted; it needs to be fixed

Posted

Recently there has been renewed interest in revisiting the city’s codes and ordinances regarding campaign contributions and ethics to consider changes that could help restore public trust.

The imperative for change became clear earlier this summer when a three judge panel created huge loopholes in the city’s ethics code to justify the conduct of one member of the Council; as a result, it gutted the code.

It is important for all citizens to know that their elected and appointed officials, as well as every city employee, act with integrity. When I was City Manager I made sure the city’s ethics code was both fairly and firmly applied.

Now, the ethics code has been rendered virtually useless as a tool to insure compliance and exact consequences for unethical behavior.

One of my first orders of business as a newly elected councilman will be to work closely with the new mayor and councilmembers to repair the damage that was done and to explore new campaign finance rules that can help restore public trust.

To fix the loophole mess and to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, I propose the following reforms to the Ethics Code applicable to the mayor and the City Council:

  • Prohibit anonymous gifts;
  • Eliminate the “personal gift” loophole created by the ethics panel;
  • Eliminate “Go FundMe” and other crowd sourcing methods to raise gifts as a way of circumventing the ethics code and campaign finance laws;
  • Prohibit requesting or accepting any gifts from City Charter officers or from any city employee.

In addition to the above, I have noted that Councilmember Whitehead has recently proposed consideration of certain changes to provide greater disclosure requirements and to impose limits on campaign contributions.

I believe her suggestions merit full and serious consideration by the next Council and, if elected, I pledge to work with my colleagues to implement appropriate reforms.

Editor’s Note: John Little is a former Scottsdale city manager; and now a candidate for Scottsdale City Council in the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.

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