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Ethics plan falls short, election board
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 8/20/2009 12:12 AM

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We, the League of Women Voters in several communities, applaud the efforts of the DuPage County Election Commission to strengthen the ethics provisions for its officers and employees.

However, we think the commission could do better. While the commission did extend the deadline for comment and postponed its vote on the ordinance, we strongly urge the commission to continue to allow more time to inform citizens of the additional changes and extend the period for citizens to comment by the following means: Send a news release alerting the general public of the proposed amendments and the opportunity to comment online; extend the period the proposed amendments will be posted and the opportunity for the public to comment; make all comments available to the public; hold a public forum to discuss the proposed amendments and publicize the forum throughout DuPage County.

In addition, flaws in the proposed ordinance should be addressed. For instance, officials and staff should never receive fees, royalties, dividends or any financial benefit whatsoever from a vendor. The idea of a single ethics officer puts too much authority on one person. Furthermore, by receiving a fee from the election commission, the impartiality of any person who takes on that responsibility is compromised.

Finally, at a minimum, there should be a provision to protect a whistle blower. There should be a requirement that it is the duty of those bound by the ordinance to report ethics violations and to cooperate in investigations. There should be a requirement for all election commission staff and board members to file statements of economic interest. The commission should open the doors to real reform, write a better ethics ordinance and allow the public sufficient time for meaningful review and comment.

Jane Barnes, president, LWV, Naperville

Nancy Peraino, president, LWV, Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle

Ginger Wheeler, president, LWV, Glen Ellyn

Missey Wilhelm, president, LWV, Wheaton