Pattye Benson

Community Matters

government ethics

Does Tredyffrin Township Need an Ethics Board?

Does Tredyffrin Township need an Ethics Board? Our neighbor, Radnor Township has an Ethics Board which meets on a ‘as needed’ basis. According to Radnor’s website, their Ethics Board . . .hears and investigates any complaints of alleged ethics violations and may render confidential advisory opinions. Their Ethics Board consists of four members, serving five-year terms plus the President of the Board of Commissioners. If we use Radnor’s model, Bob Lamina as chair of the Board of Supervisors would serve on the Board.

Although an Ethics Board presents an interesting tool for local government and the community, is it really necessary or would it help guide the leadership? Interesting question but does our local government need an ethics code? I just don’t know if a ‘ethics code’ would actually make a difference. What is needed are leaders who know conflict of interest when they see one and who avoid it scrupulously. Appearances and public perception play an enormously important role in the effectiveness of our elected officials and the well-being of the community. The point of ethical behaviour from our local leaders is to improve both the perception and the reality of integrity in our local government and to encourage, not discourage, citizens from participating in the government.

Ethics is all about making choices. Here is an interesting statement from the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, ” . . . As one political expert likes to put it, we’ve entered a “moment in ethical time.” Ever since Watergate, the public has been increasingly insistent that public officials, from senators to township supervisors, walk the straight and narrow. It’s a demand that fueled the passage of ethics laws in many states, including Pennsylvania, where one thing is clear: If you are going to play in the political arena, you better behave. And it’s a mandate that begs the question: How ethical are you?”

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