Dallas Ethics Reform Plan – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

A Dallas ethics reform plan was released Monday in the wake of several recent corruption cases.

Former city council member Dwaine Caraway went to jail after pleading guilty in 2018 to selling his votes to city council in the Dallas County schools scandal.

In June, developer Ruel Hamilton was convicted of paying bribes to Caraway and deceased city council member Carolyn Davis over an affordable housing case at town hall.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson made ethics reform a priority when he was elected in 2019. He appointed Dallas attorney Tim Powers as the ethics reform czar. Powers assembled a task force that reviewed existing municipal codes and the ethics policy of other cities.

Johnson said the task force’s work had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but was still very important.

He said some people in the housing development community are afraid to do business with the city of Dallas after the recent scandals.

“They want to do business honestly and they would like to know that we have a municipal government that is committed to this as well. And I think if we implement this report that Mr Powers has put together, his working group has put together, we will send a very strong message. that those days are over, ”Johnson said.

The main suggestion is the creation of an inspector general to oversee complaints and the application of ethics in municipal government.

“We think any cost associated with it will be well worth the expense,” Powers said.

Johnson said the proposals would simplify the existing code of ethics and strengthen its enforcement.

Dallas City Council committees will now consider the recommendations.

Here is a link to the full report.

The members of the working group were:

  • Elizabeth B. Gibson, Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
  • Daniel J. Micciche, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP and Dallas ISD Board of Directors
  • Professor Anna Offit, SMU Dedman School of Law
  • Professor Thomas P. Perkins, Jr., UNT Dallas College of Law, Former Dallas City Attorney
  • Rabbi Debra J. Robbins, Temple Emanu-El

Here is a list of the working group’s recommendations by focus area:

  1. Complaints handling, enforcement and related processes
  • Recommendation # 1: Establish an independent OIG under the city attorney’s office.
  • Recommendation 2: Streamline / consolidate the complaint process and provide better protection against the risk of unfounded reputational damage by redesigning the complaint form.
  • Recommendation 3: Allow and encourage the issuance of advisory opinions by the OIG.
  • Recommendation n ° 4: Allow the settlement of cases, with the approval of the CCE, in order to facilitate the efficient resolution of cases by agreement of the parties.
  1. Culture of excellence / compliance
  • Recommendation n ° 1: Strengthen the current training program for all civil servants and employees of the City.
  • Recommendation 2: Demonstrate mastery of online training on ethics provided by municipal representatives.
  • Recommendation n ° 3: Include an anti-discrimination provision in the Code of Ethics.
  • Recommendation n ° 4: Incorporate the concepts of ethics into the program of ambassadors of values.
  • Recommendation # 5: Analyze and improve the effectiveness of Ethics at Work emails.
  1. Conflicts of interest
  • Recommendation n ° 1: Simplify the provisions relating to conflicts of interest in the Code of Ethics.
  • Recommendation # 2: Establish a clear chain of command for reporting Code of Ethics violations.
  • Recommendation 3: Update the provisions of the Code of Ethics to promote disclosure and challenge, if necessary.
  • Recommendation 4: Establish a clear standard or test for determining whether a conflict of interest
  1. Gifts, lobbying and reporting
  • Recommendation # 1: Revise the code of ethics to streamline and clarify reporting requirements for gifts and travel.
  • Recommendation 2: Clarify the recipient of the gift or expense
  • Recommendation # 3: Convert the paper reporting system to an online system with a searchable public database.
  • Recommendation n ° 4: Clarify vague and / or unclear provisions on lobbying in the Code of Ethics.
  • Recommendation # 5: Establish a limit of $ 300 on the eligible value of gifts.
  • Recommendation 6: Improve the functionality of the online lobbyists database.
  1. Campaign financing
  • Recommendation 1: Create an online searchable electronic database to increase transparency.
  • Recommendation n ° 2: Set the minimum age for donors at 18.
  • Recommendation 3: Extend the jurisdictional scope of the Code of Ethics to ensure that it covers the actions of all persons in connection with electoral and campaign activities.
  • Recommendation n ° 4: expressly authorize a “cop on the beat”.
  • Recommendation 5: Increase the frequency of campaign finance reports.
  • Recommendation # 6: Provide comprehensive campaign finance training for candidates and staff.

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