Legislating Ethical Behavior

A recent review of the organization revealed that the DuPage County Election Commission wasn’t transparent enough, their meetings weren’t easily accessible, and they didn’t have a strong ethics ordinance making them just one of several troubled agencies in the county.

“We’ve had some financial mismanagement, we’ve had some scandals,” said Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board Chairman. “A theme that ran throughout was lack of a coherent, comprehensive ethics policy.”

But not for long. At their most recent meeting, the DuPage County Board passed an ordinance encouraging the county’s 52 boards and commissions to adopt the county’s ethics ordinance, something the Election Commission had already decided to do.

“It allows for individuals who have an ethics complaint to file that complaint directly to the Investigator General,” said Robert Saar, Executive Director of the DuPage County Election Commission. “In the past, under the commission’s old design, that complaint was coming to me as director.”

Commissions can now use the county Investigator General and Ethics Commission to investigate any complaints. The ordinance also requires employees who leave a commission or board for other jobs, and later try to do business with the county, to disclose their prior employment.

“That information would then be forwarded to the Ethics Commission to make sure it wasn’t a violation of a conflict of interest,” said Saar.

After recent problems at the Water Commission and DuPage Housing Authority, where millions of dollars were mismanaged, the county has been reviewing several organizations. While Cronin says there haven’t been problems at them all, the news ethics guidelines will help restore voters’ trust in the county.

“We all know that it’s hard to legislate ethical behavior,” said Cronin. “You know if it doesn’t feel right in your gut, it’s not right. “

Any resident who wants to report a problem with any of the public agencies will be able to do so on the county’s website.

At the meeting, Cronin and the board also appointed Paul Moreschi as the new Investigator General.

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