September 7, 2007


Several stories over the last few days have me thinking about ethics. GOP Boss Henry Wojtaszek held a forum earlier this week for some elected officials and appointees to boards like the IDA, Community College, Bridge Comission with the former head of the State Ethics Commission to discuss dos and don'ts.

At the same time, the Buffalo News was praising Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown for firing a public works employee who was accused of taking junkets from a contractor who did work with the city.

Then we have the Pat Schrader cover up and Scott Leffler's show on WLVL yesterday that raised the topic of "us" and "them." Leffler raised the issue of whether the "elite" in our community get to play by their own set of rules.

Hovering over all of this is the continuing saga of the Spitzer scandal with the state's Inspector General doing her best "I don't know nuttin" perfomance yesterday.

I'm always left wondering is it that hard to be on the side of good? Do people in positions of influence lose perspective? Is there a lack of common sense to the process?

Shouldn't acting ethically be pretty easy?


Pirate's Code said...

Is it hard to be on the side of good? To answer the question indirectly, it is increasingly hard to decide WHICH side is good. Niagara County is a microcosim of politics everywhere, I think -- if the other side proposed it, it must be bad.

Do people in positions of influence lose perspective? Yes. Again, the partisanship factor, I think, causes this. "I can't support what so-and-so is proposing because he/she is in the other party, and my party will kill me for 'crosssing the line' if I do." It happens...far too often.

Is there a lack of common sense to the process? See above.

Ethics, however, should be politics proof. Right and wrong are often easy to discern, but if you aren't sure, ask. Then ask again.

cg466 said...

A politician deals in evil.

turk 182 said...

Ethics absolutely should be politics proof, but I think some of this stuff has gotten way out of hand.

Taking a politican on a junket to St. Andrew's to play golf is wrong.

But what's wrong with playing golf locally to discuss some issues? It's the way business gets done and everyone knows it.

I'm tired of so-called good government types who think everyone is on the take and everything is a scandal.

What it does is desensitize the public for when we moral outrage is indeed warranted. We are left with the feeling that they're all crooked or they all do it.

Scott Leffler said...

It SHOULD be ... but I can also understand how it's not. You get elected of office and hope to get a bunch of good things done for your consituency. And early on you put forth bills that you want passed ... and they get stuck in committee. Then a senior member says, "hey, we can help you out with that, but you've got to vote for this." And even though you don't like the bill they want approved, you vote for it cause it will move forward your bill, which is good for your constituents. And then they say, "hey, you've got some great ideas. help us do X and you can really go far." And you go along cause if you gain power, you can help your constituents. And next thing you know, you're playing along and voting for every bad bill. And using every dirty trick. And you're one of "them."

The slippery slope does exist.

Fed Up said...

I actually think the ethics in Niagara County may have improved. You don't have the old sheriff in trouble. You don't have the old IDA counsel filling his pockets with both hands. The out and out corruption seems to have subsided. I guess only in Niagara County does that count as progress.

Pirate's Code said...

Turk raises an interesting point about the appearance of impropriety becoming, in the eyes of many, actual impropriety -- even if it is harmless.

The easiest solution? If an elected or appointed official is asked to play golf or go to dinner or have cocktails, for instance, say yes but pay for your share out of your own pocket.

That would, I think, shut most people up who might want to cry "scandal!!!"

Larry S said...

No matter what layer of government someone serves in, there always going to be ethical questions raised.

Unfortunately, too many times one side will lob an allegation of an ethical violation against the "other side" simply because it makes good press.

Unfortunately, the local media seems all to intent on publishing these unfounded accusations, without basis or merit, and regardless of the potential damage done to the target of the lob.