We are left shaking our head almost daily asking the rhetorical questions, “What were they thinking?” and “doesn’t anyone know the difference between right and wrong?” Mom and Dad would be aghast.
The recent mess incident at the City-owned Idaho Ice World was a disaster waiting to happen. It all started back in 2008 when Team Dave’s Ethics Commission was asked for an advisory opinion. The question was whether or not it would be a conflict of interest for the City Hockey Director ($44,000 salary in public money) to also serve as a coach for his son’s Peewee league team. The panel ruled it would be OK as long as he wasn’t paid to be a coach.
We don’t understand their logic, but it is obviously a conflict for a parent to be the coach and also the guy who is the top dog when it comes to EVERYTHING involving the hockey program. He didn’t make any money from his “off duty” volunteer job, but it’s still a conflict.
That same ethics panel told Boise’s treasurer it was OK to put the arm on banks and others with whom he routinely deposits public funds, to help finance a convention of city treasurers. They said as long as he was soliciting funds for the group and not in his position as city treasurer it was OK. Give me a break! Nothing illegal or dishonest, but still a stinky act of panhandling and an obvious conflict.
Same is true for the State Senator who holds gas and oil leases and votes on laws that will regulate (or not) oil exploration and production in Idaho and on his land. Legislators ruled it was no conflict because he didn’t receive a personal gain (money) from his votes. HOGWASH! It’s a conflict, plain and simple. May not be criminal, may not even be dishonest, but it IS a conflict.
We can go on about the Nampa mayor using tax money to buy lunch for city employees so they can hear his “state of the city” speech. Or the mayor of Caldwell getting a family membership at the YMCA on the backs of taxpayers. Conflicts and total disregard for ethical behavior and understanding right from wrong.
When these events and practices reach critical mass, there is always an ethics panel, attorney general opinion, or others who defend the conflict. We readily admit some things are certainly “gray,” but Mom and Dad always said if you have to think twice about whether or not you should do something, it is probably wrong. We would add if you have to spend a lot of time justifying the action, it probably wasn’t the right thing either.
We all make mistakes, but these days they all seem to be justified, rationalized, and defended. If the city or a politico screws up, best to admit it, take steps to prevent a recurrence and more on. Mom and Dad would be proud.
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