[eth-iks]We now know, thanks to Pomona's own Xavier Alvarez, that lying is perfectly legal and a part of our first amendment rights. But it is absolutely, by all reasonable standards, unethical. This is what separates ethics from law.
1. (used with a singular or plural verb ) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.
2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.
3. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.
4. (usually used with a singular verb ) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
As those of you who have read my posts in the past are aware, I've been championing the formation of an Ethics Commission as a member of the city of Pomona's Charter Review Commission. At the last meeting where this was discussed, March 16, there were numerous questions by the Deputy City Attorney who felt that the way that the proposed charter amendment was worded, it would cause problems. In addition, there were also questions of the cost of such a commission at a time when the city is facing a fiscal crisis.
On Wednesday, the item will once again be presented. This will be a significantly altered version which addresses both the issues of concern from the City Attorney's office, but also as to costs as well. I've added the rewritten item at the bottom of this post and it can also be read (along with the other items on Wednesday's agenda) on the city's web site.
It has been somewhat disheartening that there has been little public reaction to the idea. While there have been numerous letters and public speakers for the idea of a Police Commission and for inclusion of language in the charter for the Pomona Youth and Family Master Plan, only one speaker, Jorge Grajeda, thus far has addressed ethics. I hope that this is not indicative of a malaise in the city regarding ethical conduct of the city council, city commissioners, city staff, and others who represent our interests as a city.
What the new version does is takes out anything that would automatically incur costs to the city beyond the formation of an Ethics Commission. There is no requirement for staff for the commission, nor are the duties of the commission spelled out, except for the primary duty of creating a city Code of Ethics. It is the intent that such a commission would then create its role in how the code is to be administered.
While we pulled much of the original amendment language from the city of San Diego's ethics commission, the Deputy City Attorney argued that, while San Diego has it on their books, that doesn't particularly make it legal. So if you see something here that was changed, it was probably because the lawyers felt that it was unenforceable or would be challenged.
With the daily revelations of shenanigans in Upland, Montebello, San Bernardino County, etc., I feel strongly that we need to create an environment for our officials and city that encourages people to do the right thing. A code of ethics would spell out what the right thing is. Not the "legal" right thing, but the ethical right thing. I've heard ethical behavior described as "doing the right thing even when doing the wrong thing is perfectly legal, because it is the right thing.
I hope to see some of you on Wednesday in the small chambers just to the south of the council chambers. If you can't make it, you can submit your opinion to the commission by emailing to the city clerk. She will make sure the commission gets your thoughts.