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NPT County: Much discussion, same ethics result

El Paso County Commissioners Court today reconsidered and left along a proposal approved unanimously last week to ask the Texas Legislature to give the county the authority to establish an ethics commission that would have the power to punish elected officials and employees for ethics violations.

If the legislation is approved, the county and existing ethics board could establish a process for drafting a new and stronger ethics code than the county has now.

Under the current code, the ethics board has the power to censure public officials who may suffer public embarrassment but no fine or other penalty. County employees, however, can be dismissed for ethics violations under the code.

County Commissioner Dan Haggerty, who called for and sponsored the ethics code the county approved in 2004, put the item back on today’s agenda for reconsideration and expressed general reservations about it.

He and County Judge Anthony Cobos both voiced concerns that a strengthened ethics commission could engage in a “witchhunt” by going after an official or employee guilty of nothing.

At the end of the discussion, Haggerty called for no changes but did wonder why the county’s constables, as a group, exempted themselves from the county’s current ethics code.

“The constables are the only ones I know of who for some reason decided not to be covered,” Haggerty said. “But if this passes, they won’t have a choice.”

The current ethics code, which as come under criticism as being vague in some areas and wholly without teeth, was the first such code adopted by a Texas county.

Haggerty called for the code, the county attorney’s office draft it, in direct response to news reporting that disclosed the circumstances under which the brother-in-law of former County Commissioner Charles Scruggs had been hired as an accountant at the Eastside sportspark.

David Crowder

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

March 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Whats the rush. Haste makes waste.

    Why is the voting public excluded from offering our input.

    After all, we were savvy enough to vote for our current judge and commissioners, yet not smart enough to warrant an invitaion to share in this important decision?.

    Further, whatever what happened to the question of diversity. What is the make up of this ethis board, does it reflect the interest and make up of our entire community,

    Would any of the county’ black employees feel free and comfortable standing before this board if it lacks the necessary sensitivity to understand and deal with them fairly?

    Remember, the county promotes transparency and inclusivity, where is it reflected on this board?

    Rev. Lisle H. Davis

    Lisle H. Davis

    March 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

  2. […] For background on the county ethics bill (and its little hiccup along the way), click here and here. […]

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