Saturday, February 05, 2005

Of Watchdogs and their Leashes…

The Advocate reports that a top adviser to Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that the search for a new state inspector general has been winnowed to about a dozen candidates, and that three have been selected for interviews.

Chief of Staff Andy Kopplin said the governor plans to move quickly to hire a replacement for Bill Lynch, who died Feb. 15, 2004. Lynch was the state's first, and so far only, inspector general, taking office when the job was created in 1988 by then-Gov. Buddy Roemer.

The Advocate describes the inspector general position as being charged with probing corruption in the executive branch of government, eliminating waste and finding efficiencies in government. The governor must approve the inspector general's findings before the reports are made public.

Meanwhile, Gray Sexton, executive director of the State Ethics Administration, suggests that Louisiana's Code of Ethics really is not about ethics, and the board that enforces it doesn't really rule on whether something is ethical. Sexton would rather call the Code "conflict of interest legislation."

"The Ethics Board does not decide what's ethical or unethical" or deal with "metaphysical ethics," he said. Instead, it decides whether someone has violated what the Legislature has described in the 35 pages of legislation that is called the Code of Ethics.

Did he say “metaphysical?” Do we have to go that deep to root out Louisiana’s particular brand of corruptibility?

Sexton, speaking to the Press Club of Baton Rouge, said the Legislature over the years has created nearly 100 exceptions, one might say “loopholes,” in the Code that defines conflicts of interest for state officials, both elected and non-elected. When lawmakers create an exception, Sexton feels that it undermines the equal application of the law.

The Ethics Board has about 1,500 pages in its monthly agendas, so "business is good," he said. "But I'm not sure that is good" because it means so many people are stepping over what he calls "bright lines" drawn by the Legislature. "Some prohibitions deal with the appearance of impropriety, rather than actual improprieties," Sexton said.

I guess I am encouraged. How about you?


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Blogger oyster said...

"Metaphysical ethics"-- no, that phrase doesn't inspire much confidence. Metaphysics are two different branches of philosophy. While they're not totally discreet categories, I'm sure Gray Sexton wouldn't be my source for instruction on either.

8:49 AM  

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