"Nothing We Can Ever Do Will Stop Corruption If an Officeholder is Willing to Be Bribed."

Yesterday, just after Angela Hunt posted her lengthy essay titled "Ethics Reform at City Hall," Jim wrote that "we can thank council members Hunt, Ann Margolin and Linda Koop for adding the only real teeth in this poor gum-smacker." So happens that on Monday, Margolin also weighed on the subject (and last Wednesday's meeting that ended up in a pile of straw) on her occasionally updated Web site -- and her item's a two-parter. First part's titled "Ethics Reform: What Happened"; the second, "Ethics Reform: What We Did." An excerpt or two, in advance of the November 9 council vote:

These ordinances are not simple. It may sound simple to say we should register lobbyists but you have to carefully define lobbyist or you risk including neighborhood associations that talk to their council member about a zoning case.

What does it mean to register? What are the reporting requirements? Do contacts with staff have to be reported or just council members? What are the fees? If you are going to prohibit contributions from a developer during a zoning case, when does the zoning case start? Each of these questions needs careful consideration.

The Dallas Morning News contributed to this sense of urgency and implied that council members were resisting and dragging our feet. I promise you that I was not and I don't believe this was true for the huge majority of the council. We had our first full briefing on the subject on October 19, nine days before it came to the council as an agenda item. ...

Before I explain what we did, I want to be clear that nothing we did or can ever do will stop corruption if an officeholder is willing to be bribed.

There are laws that landed Don Hill in a courtroom. They were in place and did not stop corruption. We are now passing stricter ordinances. They make an important statement. They will shed light on who speaks with whom and prohibit certain contributions. In the end it comes down to each public official.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky