The Denton City Council is writing a new ethics ordinance. Watch this process closely. Effective ethics laws increase transparency about how elected officials go about their business.
Tried-and-true examples include campaign finance reports requiring candidates to disclose who gives them money, how much money and how they spend that money.
We believe the ordinance should require council members and top city staffers to disclose how their close relatives earn a living. The report would say something like: "Billy Bob Smith, my spouse, is executive vice president for finance at XYZ Corp." Reports would include parents, children and siblings.
Another example: Lobbyists should report their contacts with City Council members or top city staffers. The public needs to know when a vendor (someone seeking a city government contract) is lobbying for approval or defeat of an upcoming agenda item.
All reports should be posted online for easy public access.
These are but a couple of ideas. Beware any ordinance that does not require increased transparency or disclosure by council members and city staff.
In a recent Facebook post announcing her decision not to run for re-election in 2018, council member Sara Bagheri acknowledged that cronyism and self-dealing sometimes infect City Hall as people try to get their slice of the pie through undue influence.
"I look forward to continuing to contribute to the ideals of good government for the people and assisting as I can in the struggle to free government from the grasp of those who would manipulate it through staff and elected officials for personal gain," Bagheri wrote.