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DuPage ethics ordinance doesn't go far enough for some
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/8/2009 4:00 PM

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The first draft of changes to DuPage County's ethic ordinance don't go as far as some board members would like.

While it proposes protections for whistle-blowers, requires documentation for any gift given to employees or elected officials by vendors and eliminates statutes of limitations on wrongdoing, some board members say it lacks teeth.

"I don't think it goes anywhere near far enough," said board member Jim Healy. "There isn't anything regarding (campaign) contributions from vendors and unions or things along those lines."

Other board members said they plan to propose additions to the ethics policy that don't appear in the current draft.

The draft was issued at Tuesday's finance committee meeting, the oversight body for the board's transparency subcommittee, which created the proposals. The draft was a first step that addresses several shortcomings of the county's ethics policy. Other issues, such as campaign contributions, may have to addressed through other avenues, said Jeff Redick, chairman of the transparency committee.

"We don't have the authority in our ethics amendments to limit campaign contributions from companies that do business with the county," he said. "But we can put that in our procurement policy."

For the most part, the proposed ethics amendments add restrictions and limits to existing policies. If approved, any meal or gift provided to a county employee or elected official by a vendor must be reported within 30 days. Currently, there are dollar-value thresholds before employees or officials are required to report these items.

"It's anything," Redick said. "Lunch at McDonald's or even just a pen. Will it deter people from just accepting things from vendors without thinking? That's definitely part of the impact. We're making people accountable."

The proposed amendments would also require vendors to disclose all campaign contributions to elected county officials if the cumulative total within the past year is greater than $1,000. Currently, they are required to disclose contributions only if they gave more than $1,000 to one candidate.

The proposals also eliminate the two-year statute of limitations on misconduct.

"Part of the reason there was that there was some concern that situations where there was an ongoing act wasn't detectable until that person leaves a post," Redick said.

The full draft will be available Wednesday for inspection at the county's Web site dupageco.org, county officials said.

The board could vote on the changes as early as Sept. 22, Redick said.