City Hall

Dial "F" For Fraud: Auditor Craig Kinton to Tell Council City's Code of Ethics Comes Up Short

Shortly before the holidays, Leslie sat in on an Ethics Advisory Commission get-together during which its members stewed in an existential funk, asking themselves such questions as: ""Are we accomplishing what we were created to accomplish?" And: "What does the culture of ethics look like?" And: "How do we define it?" Mayor Mike has put council member Jerry Allen in charge of City Hall's ethics makeover, which includes the giving the commission more power, if only because right now it couldn't have much less. In the words of commissioner Roger Wedell, "I'm unclear about the role of this commission."

Which isn't his fault: Back in November 2009, when the council was voting on Tom Leppert's ethics reforms that more or less consisted of making lobbyists register at City Hall, Angela Hunt lambasted the then-mayor's idea of reform as nothing more than "toothless proposals." Which is how we ended up with another round of another round of another round of reform.

But, first, City Auditor Craig Kinton is weighing in. Tomorrow, when council returns from its Presidents Day off, he'll huddle with the Budget, Audit & Finance Committee to review the PowerPoint you find below with, in which Kinton compares and contrasts Dallas's 12-year-old code of ethics with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations, the latter of which contains seven steps to recovery for every org, especially those in need of a little ethical fine-tuning. Says Kinton's look-see, the city still has a ways to go.

Take, for instance, this bit from the FSGO: "Specific individual(s) within the organization shall be delegated day-to-day operational responsibility for the compliance and ethics program." That's No. 2 on the list, right behind actually writing a list of criminal stuff you shouldn't do, which is the only thing the city has done, far as Kinton can tell. Anyway. It's high up. Important stuff. And the city completely ignores it: There's "no City-designated ethics officer," Kinton notes, and the Ethics Advisory Commission has "limited jurisdiction," which is just being polite. It gets worse. A few ... highlights: "Possible inconsistent applicant reference process." "Lack of comprehensive ethics training program." "Whistle-blower protections not explicitly stated." And, a favorite: "Administrative Directive 2-14 Fraud, Waste and Abuse Procedures shows incorrect Fraud Hotline number."

Audit of City's Ethics Program

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky