Two weeks ago, Schutze noted that the city council -- very quietly, very nonchalantly, very consent-agenda-y -- loosened up its own restrictions governing when and how developers with zoning cases at City Hall could slide council members some dough-re-mi.
When the original ordinance passed two long years ago, it prohibited "applicants in designated zoning cases and designated public subsidy matters and persons responding to requests for bids or proposals on city contracts from making campaign contributions to city council members during designated periods of time." But at its meeting on April 13, the council said: Nah. As the amended ordinance reads now, "employees and representatives of the property owner in a designated zoning case or designated public subsidy matter" can slip the council some money, no harm and most certainly no foul.
To which mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings just said: Not on my watch. Per a press release just sent out by Allyn Media, which is managing his campaign, Rawlings insists that if he's elected, he'll "immediately work to restore the ethics ordinance that was weakened earlier this month by the Dallas City Council." His whole release follows, but at the end he does mention that one of his fellow mayoral candidates happens to sit on the very council that let this sucker fly by without anyone so much as saying boo till Jim went and read the fine print:
"I am disappointed that Mr. Natinsky chose money over ethics. It is critical that our taxpayers and citizens have trust in government, and loosening our ethics code during an election does not instill that trust."
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I've left messages for and sent e-mails to Natinsky and his peoples and will update when someone responds. Till then, jump. But before you go, just leave the payday loan on the dresser.
Update at 4:06 p.m.: Via Becky Mayad, spokesperson for Natinsky's campaign, we received a statement from the council member and mayoral candidate in response to Rawlings's release. It reads in full:
I fully support the ethics ordinance, which is why I voted in favor of it the first time it was approved by Council. I have always been a strong proponent of transparency and ethics in government; it's something our citizens deserve.
However, there was an Executive Session held on this issue, and upon the recommendation of the City Attorney, modifications were made and approved two weeks ago by Councilmembers as a result of that session. I believe these changes -- which apply to contributions only -- strengthen our ethics ordinance because the new requirements put in place apply to anyone running for City office, whether they are a sitting Councilmember or a candidate.
The ordinance guidelines regarding transparency and online reporting remain intact.
MIKE RAWLINGS PLEDGES TO RESTORE ETHICS
Shines light on ethics rules weakened during mayoral campaign
Today, Mike Rawlings pledged that as mayor he would immediately work to restore the ethics ordinance that was weakened earlier this month by the Dallas City Council.
"After all of the debate and news coverage last year over the new code of ethics, it was surprising to me to learn that the City Council voted to weaken it so quickly with no public discussion, and during the very first city election cycle after it was put in place," Mike Rawlings said. "If elected, I will work immediately to address these changes, restore the ethics ordinance, or even strengthen it," said Rawlings.
On April 13, the City Council approved a consent agenda that included shortening the time period in which persons with business in front of the City are restricted from making campaign contributions, and changed the rules to allow for contributions from consultants representing developers on zoning issues - even when the developer is prohibited from contributing. The new changes took place immediately, and opened up a whole new list of donor prospects for Council members who are trying to raise money during the campaign season.
"I am disappointed that Mr. Natinsky chose money over ethics. It is critical that our taxpayers and citizens have trust in government, and loosening our ethics code during an election does not instill that trust." Rawlings continued.